It was a “tsunami” from the sky as trillions of litres of rainwater ate up vast chunks of Uttarakhand — mainly in Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts — devastating it completely, leaving thousands stranded and many more missing. While the official toll was 102, it was nowhere near reality but proper quantification could not be made due to lack of access to remote areas.
Officials said the 116 km of areas between Rudraprayag and Kedarnath was the worst affected by landslides. The main damage was caused by 8-10 feet high floods from Gandhi Sarovar (3 km from Kedarnath, at a higher altitude) at Chaurabari Glacier as it charged down at Rambara (a hamlet, 7 km before Kedarnath), destroying houses and other buildings, vehicles and shops along the road and leaving a large volume of silt.
“The Kedarnath town has been reduced to debris. Though relief and rescue work is on in full swing, it will take one year to restart the Char Dham Yatra,” state Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said. Officials said that during an aerial survey on Wednesday morning, the houses and other buildings in the area could not even be seen. “It is feared that most of the houses were destroyed, as the area remains completely inundated,” an official said. The CM claimed that at least 500 roads and over 170 bridges were completely wiped out by the landslides, making rescue operations there nearly impossible by road.
Roshan Trivedi, one of the priests of Kedarnath Temple, rescued by helicopter from the valley to Rishikesh, told reporters he has never witnessed such devastation in the 16 years he has been worshipping there. “I can’t say anything except that there were thousands of people that day when Gandhi Sarovar lake burst from its seams and everything from people to houses got washed away.”