Monsoon havoc claims more lives in North, toll mounts to 138

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New Delhi, June 19: Flash floods and landslips triggered by the monsoon fury left eight more persons dead, taking the number of people killed in calamity-hit Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to 138 even as 2700 pilgrims and locals were rescued from Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts.

The weather cleared in most places in the north making it easier for rescue personnel to launch operations for those stranded, especially in Badrinath shrine where 12,000 pilgrims are still stuck.

Disaster Management authorities said in Chamoli that eight bodies were recovered by villagers late last evening from Bansinarayan area of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. They seem to have perished on Sunday itself in the downpour that lashed the area while they were in search of Kira Jari, a rare aphrodisiac found in the alpine grassland of the sanctuary.

Chamoli Additional District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar said 1500 pilgrims and locals have been evacuated so far from Ghanghariya, Duendhar and Pulna from near Hemkund Sahib in the district to Joshimath relief camps.

With the improvement in weather many more stranded pilgrims are likely to be evacuated to safety by the evening, he said adding evacuation of pilgrims from Badrinath is next on their agenda where 12000 persons are still stranded.

1200 persons have also been evacuated from Kedarnath, an official in Rudraprayag said. The officials said evacuating people to safer places is their priority as recovery of bodies can be taken up later.

A total of 110 people have been killed in Uttarakhand.

Rescue operations were also on in rain-ravaged tribal Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh for the second day today and two IAF and one state chopper is evacuating stranded people at various points in Kinnaur district and adjoining Kaza area of Spiti.

About 140 people were rescued yesterday from Sangla Valley and Rekong Peo and dropped at Rampur and helicopter sorties have been planned for Pooh and Kaza also.

A large number of people including a Doordarshan team and some other reporters was stranded at Pooh, which received snow and rains on Sunday and Monday and a chopper is being sent to bring them.

"The exact number of people stranded at various locations was not known but priority is to evacuate tourists and the aged and ailing persons first," HP Principal Secretary (Home), Tarun Sridhar said.


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