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Landslides, rain hit rescue operations in Uttarakhand
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Landslides, rain hit rescue operations in UttarakhandDEHRADUN: Fresh spell of rain and landslides at a number of places including the higher reaches of Pauri, Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts on Monday hit rescue operations in Uttarakhand.

At least 10,000 survivors in different parts of the state are still waiting to be rescued.

Not a single chopper has taken off from Sahasradhara helipad since morning to rescue stranded pilgrims at Badrinath and affected pockets adjacent to it.

The same is the situation in Guptkashi and Gauchar from where no helicopter has so far been able to take off because of a thick veil of mist enveloping the area and intermittent rains.

"About 5000 people are yet to be evacuated from Badrinath and not even a single chopper has so far been able to take off from Sahasradhara helipad here to rescue stranded pilgrims at the shrine and affected pockets adjacent to it," said Retd Wing Commander Capt RS Brar, who has been entrusted with the task of overseeing air rescue operations in the affected areas.

"I am myself sitting in an aircraft since morning waiting for the weather to clear up so that we could start our operations," he said.

However, one redeeming fact is that relief material like food packets and medicines have been made available to people stranded at most places including Badrinath, he said.

Reports from Chamoli and Pauri districts said it was raining in the higher reaches hampering chopper operations. The state capital Dehradun was also drenched with rain.

Fresh landslips on Badrinath highway has also choked the route.

Capt Brar said chopper operations will resume the moment the weather improves.

However, he said there is no cause for much worry as teams of doctors besides relief material have reached the affected people who are still stranded.

With inclement weather affecting chopper operations, the state government's plans to launch a final combing operation in the worst-hit Kedarnath Valley in search of possible stranded pilgrims in pockets has also hit a roadblock.

However, official sources said an IAF chopper has been sent from Gauchar to Badrinath axis to assess the weather and find out whether it would be possible to resume rescue operations in the area where the majority of stranded pilgrims are located.

Kedarnath Valley, the temple town which was the epicentre of the floods and landslides, was on Sunday cleared of all stranded pilgrims in stepped up rescue operations.

Disaster management minister Yashpal Arya had on Sunday said that at "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".

The official death toll as of Saunday was put at 680 while chief minister Vijay Bahuguna said the death toll is likely to be around 1,000.


Source: Times of india

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