At least 12 killed after cloudburst triggers flash floods in Uttarakhand
At least 12 people were killed after a cloudburst triggered flash floods at Ramgarh in Uttarakhand’s Nainital district on Tuesday, an official said. This took the toll from rain-related incidents in the state to at least 22 since Monday as incessant rains lashed Uttarakhand for the third day.
District magistrate Dheeraj Singh Garbiyal said that at least 12 bodies have been recovered from the spot while rescue efforts continue at the scene where several people were suspected to have been buried under the muck.
The cloudburst, or a sudden and very heavy localised rainfall, was reported around 5 am and led to flash floods in Ramgarh and Okhladanda blocks. “...the cloud burst in Ramgarh block, about 35 km from Nainital town, caused a flash flood. It resulted in heavy damage in Ramgarh as well as Okhladanda block ...” said Garbiyal. He added the roads leading to the affected areas have been badly damaged and forced them to seek the Army and Indian Air Force’s help. “(They) are now assisting the state agencies in the rescue and relief work.”
Five people died while one was rescued in Mukteshwar after a wall of a college collapsed on a shanty.
Preeti Priyadarshini, superintendent of police (Nainital), said the six people were labourers and were staying in the shanty when the wall collapsed on them Tuesday morning due to heavy rains in the area.
“The local police and SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) rushed to the spot for rescue operation... five bodies were retrieved while one was rescued and sent to nearby hospital for treatment. A total of 17 people died and 915 people were rescued from various places of the district in the last 24 hours,” said Priyadarshini.
At least 150 tourists, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, were stuck in a resort in the district’s Ramnagar area after the water from overflowing Kosi river flooded it. The local police have sent a bus along with some personnel to rescue them.
A bridge over the Gola river near Haldwani town of Nainital district was earlier washed away due to heavy rain on Tuesday morning, bringing the traffic completely to a standstill on the Haldwani-Sitarganj highway. Kathgodam-bound trains were also cancelled after the shunting line of the station there was washed away. “Due to the damage, all the trains towards Kathgodam have been cancelled. The railway traffic will resume after the repair works,” said Chayan Roy, the station superintendent.
The water from the Nainital Lake also overflowed onto Mall Road and entered the Naina Devi temple premises.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on the situation in the state and assured him of all the possible help from the Centre.
The SDRF separately rescued over 70 people, including 49 children, trapped inside a flooded school in Uddham Singh Nagar district. SDRF Commandant Navneet Singh said they rescued them using inflatable boats and took them to the nearby safe places. He added the SDRF also rescued 22 pilgrims returning after visiting the Kedarnath shrine. “On Monday late night, ...the pilgrims were coming back after visiting the shrine and were stuck in heavy rains in Junglechatti area.”
The agency also rescued 25 trekkers near Gangotri after their trek route got blocked. “On Tuesday morning, 25 more people were rescued in Raiwala village near Dehradun after they were stranded... Apart from this, 100 people from various waterlogged areas of Uddham Singh Nagar district were also rescued... on Tuesday.”
Dhami chaired a meeting at the state disaster management control room to assess the damage caused to life and property. “During the meeting, he also called up the district magistrates of Rudraprayag and Chamoli to especially focus on the char dham yatra route to ensure the pilgrims do not face any problem. He is also getting regular updates from all the district magistrates on the rain situation in their respective districts,” said an official, who did not want to be named. “He also directed the authorities to provide compensation to the victims as soon as possible.”
Dhami later left for aerial and ground surveillance of the rain-affected areas with disaster management minister Dhan Singh Rawat.
He later appealed to the people “not to panic and keep calm.”
“I urge the people to keep calm as the government is providing all possible help to the affected ones. Modi has also assured of every required help to the state to handle the situation. The air force has already sent its choppers to assist in the rescue and relief work in the affected areas,” said Dhami. “The farmers have also suffered major losses which the government is assessing.” He said the weather was expected to improve by Tuesday night after which the situation in the state will normalise.
Several roads were blocked as heavy rains threw life out of gear in Uttarakhand on Monday. Three people died in Lansdowne in Pauri Garhwal district after a shanty collapsed under heavy muck brought in by the rains on Monday morning. A 53-year-old woman died in a similar incident in the Champawat district.
In the hilly Pithoragarh district, at least 10 roads, including three major arteries—Tanakpur to Pithoragarh, Jauljibi to Munsiyari and Tawaghat to Darma—were blocked due to landslides on Monday.