Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel on Sunday raced against time to evacuate 22,000 people stranded at various places in Uttarakhand after monstrous flashfloods on June 16 tore through its Rudra-prayag, Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts, levelling roads, hotels, homes and leaving at least 5,000 people dead.
“At least 5,000 people must have been killed in the deluge that inflicted heavy damage on vast tracts of land especially in Kedarnath valley,” Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya said after an aerial visit.
The rescue operations, already hindered by the damaged roads and bridges, could be further disrupted by foul weather on Monday as moderate to heavy rain is likely in many flood-affected areas of Kedarnath and Badrinath. Anand Sharma, Director of Meteorological Centre, Dehradun, said the weather may turn worse in the next 12 to 24 hours. “Moderate to heavy rainfall is likely to continue till Friday which may hamper the rescue work in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Champawat,” Sharma said.
With the clock ticking, rescue teams on the ground are trying to save stranded tourists and pilgrims from critical areas. A total 0f 83 aircraft have been deployed in the areas. Of these 45 are from the IAF, 13 from the Army and 25 from the State government. State officials said they would also be using roads to evacuate people.
According to State officials, the Army, ITBP and NDRF have so far evacuated about 82,000 people stranded at various places. The teams have been working to evacuate about 10,000 people still stranded in Badrinath, Gauchar, Gaurikund and Harsil. Jungle Chetti area, which was a matter of concern on Saturday, has been fully cleared.