Pune city sub-divisional magistrate Ravindra Kulkarni,who was part of the rescue team sent to the flood-affected Uttarakhand recently,said chances of finding 25 people missing from Pune were bleak.
Kulkarni,who camped at Gauchar and Joshi Math in Uttarakhand for 12 days from June 23 for official rescue work carried out by the Maharashtra government in association with other rescue forces,said all the missing persons have been non-traceable since June 15.
The 25 missing had travelled by Shivgauri Travels. They have been missing from Rambada sector of Uttarakhand,which was destroyed when flash flood occurred due to cloudbursts. Most stranded tourists were evacuated safely by rescue teams by the time we left the flood ravaged state, he told Newsline on Tuesday.
Recalling his stay in Uttarakhand during rescue and relief operations,Kulkarni said the rescue team from Maharashtra helped more than 400 stranded tourists,including some from other states.
Helicopters located missing people on the hilly terrain of Gauchar and Joshi Math and evacuated them. It was weather that proved a major obstacle in rescue work. Despite being ready since dawn,we had to often wait till 10 am to embark on our work,hampered by rain and fog. Roads were washed away. Flying was the only option and helicopters had to make their way through steep valleys to find people. Rescue forces,supported by local civilians saved hundreds of lives, he said.
Kulkarni recalled the deteriorating health condition of many evacuated tourists battling for their lives in high-altitude areas.
Tourists had to fight floods,landslide,fog and mud. There was lack of oxygen at the high-altitude. Almost all rescued tourists had fever. Some had asthma and blood-pressure, said Kulkarni,who had a skin problem.
An estimate of the state rescue team,which was divided into groups to work in different parts of Uttarakhand,around 158 missing people are from Maharashtra,including 25 from Pune.