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Uttarakhand worst hit as rain,floods kill at least 60 in north India

The famous Kedarnath temple is inaccessible as the bridge to it has been washed away.

Written by Sanjay Singh | Dehradun |
June 18, 2013 3:21:15 am

Cloudbursts,floods and landslides brought on by incessant rain over the past 48 hours have left a trail of destruction across north India,killing at least 60 people,injuring scores and leaving thousands stranded.

Uttarakhand has borne the brunt. At least 30 people have died and floods have washed away four hundred roads,scores of telephone towers,vehicles and houses as well as a helicopter and left some 57,000 pilgrims to Badrinath,Kedarnath,Yamunotri and Gangotri stranded. The Army has been called in to rescue them as well as local villagers.

In the worst-affected Rudraprayag,rescue workers have found bodies of five of the 11 people believed to have been killed in a cloudburst near Rambada near Kedarnath. Two persons are feared dead in a landslide in the area and several are missing. The famous Kedarnath temple is inaccessible as the bridge to it has been washed away.

“Rambada mein zyada nuksan hua hai,” Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna told a press conference Monday. “But I am not in position to give you details. Uttarakhand is in grip of unprecedented rain and floods. I am trying my best to collect information from various districts to assess the situation. About 400 roads have been damaged. Bridges have been swept away. Helicopters are ready but the weather is not favouring us.”

Rambada is a base camp for pilgrims to Kedarnath. Reports said at least 40 hotels near Gaurikunda,from where pilgrims start their journey to the temple on foot,and a market at Sonprayag have been washed away by a raging Mandakini river. Some 3,000 pilgrims have reportedly taken shelter with villagers in Gori.

In Chamoli,a group of seven foreign trekkers are believed to be trapped at Ghattauli near Badrinath. And the authorities evacuated Pandukeshwar village after Alaknanda changed course.

National Disaster Response Force personnel has sent 50 personnel to Haridwar “but they are unable to move ahead because of the damage to roads.”

Meanwhile,unrelenting skies poured 375 mm more rain on Dehradun. “This is a new record,” Anand Sharma,director of Dehradun Meterolgical Centre,said. He predicted more rain over the next 72 hours.

In Himachal Pradesh,heavy rain and floods have killed 11 people,damaged much of the road and communication network in the worst-affected Kinnaur district and left some 1,700 tourists stranded,including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

Singh was in Kinnaur to campaign for the Mandi Lok Sabha byelection scheduled for June 23. He is stuck at Sangla,a popular tourist destination.

The rain and floods have also led to collapse of at least 50 houses,washed away several roads and caused widespread damage to apple orchards and fields. Those killed include five of a family,three of them children,who were crushed in a landslide.

The government has sought help from the Army and the Air Force to rescue the stranded people,including 25 foreigners and a team from Doordarshan,but bad weather has frustrated their efforts so far. The state helicopter made two attempts to airlift the chief minister and his staff but was thwarted by bad weather each time. The government,meanwhile,sanctioned Rs 10 crore to provide immediate relief to the affected people.

In Haryana,the Army and the Air Force rescued more than 200 people,including 52 from an island in Yamuna. An overflowing Yamuna — eight lakh cusecs of water flowed through Hathnikund Barrage Monday compared to 4.7 lakh cusecs a day before — has flooded Shergarh Tapu and Chandrao villages in Karnal and alarmed the state enough to sound a high alert in Karnal,Panipat and Sonepat.

WITH ENS SHIMLA,CHANDIGARH

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