New Delhi, June 19: Kedarnath town was virtually submerged in mud and slush where 50 people had died and thousands are said to be missing in the flash floods.
The reason for mud, slush and flash floods could be due to breaking away of Kedar Dome and breaching of Charbari lake reservoir. Kedar Dome is a mountain peak and lies on a spur projecting towards the Gangotri glacier, two kilometers northwest of Kedarnath.
Meanwhile, this evening Uttarkhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said that Kedarnath was badly affected by floods. "Don't think we'll be able to start yatra before one year."
"We are not sure of the number of people who have died in the rains but for sure the numbers are much higher as more than 15,000 people are reported missing," a senior official involved in rescue work said today.
Officials admit that all of the 250 plus government and private hotels and lodges and more than 100 shops around the temple have been flattened.
The district magistrate of Rudraprayag, V.K. Dhaudhiyal, said he feared that the death toll in Kedarnath could be much higher.
At any given time, officials said 700 to 1,000 people were always at Ram Bada, which is now a heap of debris.
With 380 mm of rainfall, 450 percent more than usual, battering the area, aerial surveys have confirmed the worst fears.
Official records point out that during the June 14-16 rain fury, more than 13,000 people were at Kedarnath.
And while officials confirm evacuation of more than 1,000 people, the fate of the remaining 12,000 remains uncertain.
Other than this, the whereabouts of more than 1,000 people employed at the Ram Bada market, several hundred government employees, over 100 priests in the Shiva shrine are also not known.
The shrine, one of the four holy dhams, in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand bore the brunt of torrential rains. The mountain roads have been washed away resulting in slow and difficult rescue work.
The Ram Bada area near the temple town has been completely submerged and was not visible from rescue choppers. The entire 14 kilometre trekking route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath via Ram Bada has been severely affected.
Army Central Command officials said that nearly 6,000 to 8,000 people are stranded in Kedarnath, 2,500 in Hemkund Sahib and around 8,000 in Badrinath.
Flash floods, cloudbursts and landslips have so far claimed 131 lives in northern India. Thousands have been displaced in Uttar Pradesh where several rivers are in spate. The death toll in Uttarakhand has reached 102.
Military helicopters carried out emergency food drops on Wednesday for thousands of people stranded by flash flooding and washed out roads.
Uttarakhand: 0135-2710334, 2710335, 2710233.
Joshimath, Karnaprayag and Govindghat: 01372-253785.
Uttarkashi: 01374-226126, 226161.
ITBP helpline and control room: 011-24362892 and 9968383478.
Tales of survivors
Akash and his three friends watched in horror as a rain swollen river in Uttarakhand washed away their car, leaving them stranded. All four feel they have had a second birth. At one time, they had given up all hopes of surviving the rampaging floods .
They escaped the nature's fury by taking shelter at a private helipad.
"We saw houses and hotels collapse like they were made of cardboard," recounted another survivor of a group from Lucknow that went to Kedarnath, one of the worst hit places in Uttarakhand.
One survivor recounted how a girl walking ahead of them was suddenly swept away in the rains. Apparently, more than 100 people, mostly pilgrims, remain stranded near Sonprayag.
Shailendra Prakash Singh, another survivor, says the destruction was so sweeping that he was left only with the clothes he was wearing. Everything else was lost.
Rampati Ram Tripathi, former Uttar Pradesh president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is trapped in a Garhwal tourism guest house in Uttarkashi. He has told party colleagues that he has been stranded since June 15 after returning from Gangotri. According to him, all major roads have been wiped off the map.
"There is no help coming our way," he complained. "There is no power, no food. All that we have is shelter at this place," he said on telephone.
Many were lucky to telephonically alert their families before losing the mobile network.
With agencies inputs