The 10,000 more stranded pilgrims might have to suffer more ordeal. As fresh rains pounded the hill state of Uttarakhand hampering work, rescue efforts might have to be stopped for three more days when the weather gets clear.
Search and rescue efforts were hampered by heavy rains and landslides on Monday as rescue teams struggled to reach Badrinath and Harshil axis. The weather, as predicted by the Met department, even grounded big Army choppers affecting air evacuation operation.
The weather wasn’t cooperating with rescuers who tried to use the repaired road. Heavy rains triggered two landslides between Rudraprayag and Guptkashi in the morning blocking the vehicular movement and evacuation plan to bring the stranded by foot was suspended. Met department said the moderate rainfall will continue at several locations in the state till June 29. Chamoli district is likely to receive heavy rainfall on Tuesday and Thursday while Uttarkashi will be under severe weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. Badrinath, Harshil, Gaurikund and Guptkashi __ the critical areas will be severally affected by foul weather.
State officials said till Monday evening total 95,000 stranded pilgrims have been evacuated from Rudrprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Tehri and Pithoragarh. Around 500 people are still stuck at Gaurikund and the operation to bring them to safety was suspended following heavy rains in the area. The state government has deployed more than 1000 public transport vehicles for taking the rescued people to their hometowns.
“The number of stranded people could be more than 10,000 as we will have to scan other critical areas for survivors. We are also trying to find out survivors in the villages as all the villages in Kedar Ghati were lost,” officials said.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police on Monday deployed Netra UAV for search and rescue operations in the remote areas of Kedarnath, Bhairav Chatti and Jungle Chatti scanning for survivors. ITBP DG Ajay Chadha said the jawans also combed the Bhairon Chetti area and ensured that there are no survivors there.
“We have ordered two more Netra UAVs from the manufacturers and expect to deploy them once the weather is clear,” Chadha said. The weather was expected to improve by Friday and in the meantime personnel on the ground are trying to evacuate stranded through repaired roads. The ITBP team has already repaired the damaged roads from Badrinath to Hanuman Chatti which is now being used for rescue operations.