Himachal steps up rescue ops, key bridge caves in near Haridwar
CHANDIGARH/DEHRADUN: Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand continued to reel under the devastating spell of rains and landslides on Thursday. Rescue workers on Thursday shifted to safety all 256 tourists stranded for five days at Chandratal in Lahaul and Spiti and mounted a helicopter operation to evacuate over 100 people stuck at places around Sangla in rain-battered Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district.
The state government claims to have moved 60,000 tourists to safer areas over the past four days. But 10,000 tourists stuck at different spots in Kasol, Kheerganga and adjoining areas were refusing to trek to safety as they do not want to leave their cars behind, officials said.
Authorities have told them they would be given ‘receipts’ they can produce to claim the vehicles later. The hill state has been lashed by heavy rains that triggered landslides and flash floods, blocking roads and washing away bridges.
With the recovery of three more bodies, the Himachal death toll rose to 42. Fourteen people are missing, according to Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu. In Uttarakhand, road connectivity has been disrupted in most parts of the state. The bridge over the Malan river connecting Kotdwar with Haridwar and Dehradun collapsed on Wednesday night. The bridge over the Malan river is the lifeline of Kotdwar-Bhawar.
A flood-like situation was witnessed at many places in several villages of Haridwar district where relief and rescue teams evacuated several families from their homes by safe raft boats on Thursday. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the flood-affected area in a raft today.
In the last five days, 19 people have died and 28 have been injured due to various reasons in rain-related disasters. The state government has ordered closure of all schools in the state till July 15. Meanwhile, the Israeli embassy has contacted the state government and expressed their willingness to airlift their nationals from the affected areas of Himachal’s Kasol and Tirthan. CM Sukhu said all foreign tourists are safe and essential commodities were being ensured to them.