On the sixth day after flash floods devastated the hill state of Uttarakhand, rescue operations were paralysed in Kalimath, as roads that connect it to Kedarnath were completely destroyed.
At least 150 shops and 50 private hotels at the bus depot on the way to Kedarnath lay in ruins.
Officials said there was no information about hospital employees and the police personnel who were deployed at the police post at Kedarnath. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde warned that the tragedy was not yet over and announced that he would visit Uttarakhand on Saturday to oversee the relief and rescue operations.
“We have evacuated 34,000 people from various parts of Uttarakhand but 50,000 people are still stranded. Our efforts are continuing to rescue all the stranded people,” Shinde said. Out of 50,000 stranded, approximately 22,429 are in worst hit Rudraprayag while 18,162 people are waiting to be rescued in Chamoli district, 2,600 people are stranded in Gangotri, Harshil, Jhala and Maneri.
During a review meeting in North Block, Shinde raised the issue of coordination between its own agency National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Army, ITBP and state agencies. “So we have decided to appoint former Union Home Secretary V K Duggal as nodal officer to coordinate the relief and rescue operations. He will operate from Dehradun from Saturday,” Shinde said. Meanwhile, Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel involved in rescue operation in Uttarakhand claimed that its rescue team would be able to evacuate all stranded people by Sunday.
ITBP DG Ajay Chadha said some areas that were inaccessible till now have been reached. “Rescue ops have gathered pace as the weather has improved, the Army is helping us and three battalions of the force deployed in the state have rescued around 4,000 people,” Chadha said.