New Delhi, India: The water level in Uttarakhand is rising and so is the death toll. About 60,000 pilgrims are stranded for 5 days at a stretch and there seems to be no end to the rescue operations here, which is intercepted by bad weather, terraneous geography, and rising water levels. About 150 have already lost their lives from starvation and nervousness, and a handful while saving the rest. The Army and the Airforce have joined hands with the disaster management teams to curb more loss of lives, but things seem to worsen by time.
In fact, the rescue operations have been an eye-opener for everyone as the teams unravel the damage that nature can do, leave alone the lives that have been affected. The scale of devastation is astronomical as one sees photos of the destroyed shops, dharmashalas and residences streaming in. While the shrine is intact, the scene of sheer destruction around it leaves one aghast and helpless. The roads and the trekking roads enroute Kailash Mansarovar have been declared dangerous and any trip on this road is prohibited for the next 1 year. Rescue operations in Haridwar are hindered due to roadblocks and landslides. The government has predicted that it would take about a year's time to get things back to normal.
Meanwhile, the PM has announced Rs 1,000 crore towards relief, although the damage is feared to be much higher. Rs 145 crore is being released immediately for adhoc relief operations. Right now, over 10,000 people have been rescued and are being sheltered and given food and clothing.
Exact figures on the number of deaths and the stranded are still unknown. However, one can understand the intensity seeing the number of jawans and helicopters in the vicinity, trying to save people.
Approximately, 5,500 jawans, 3,000 BRO (Border Roads Organisation) officials and 600 ITBP personnel have been engaged in crisis management. Thirteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been engaged to handle the sensitive situation in the vicinity. The Air Force has deployed around 18 helicopters and C130 aircraft. The state and the central government has engaged private helicopters for a speedy rescue operation.
Toll free missing numbers have been aired so that people can track their near and dear ones.
PM addresses media after Uttarakhand survey
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks to media after making an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in Uttarakhand in New Delhi.
Sonia tours U'khand
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi making an aerial survey of flood affected areas of Uttarakhand.
PM on an aerial survey of U'Khand
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making an aerial survey of flood affected areas of Uttarakhand.
Operation Ganga Prahar
Army men during the "Operation Ganga Prahar" in a flood-hit area in Uttarakhand.
Pilgrims from Maharashtra greet each other in Dehradun after they were rescued from the flood hit areas of Uttarkashi.
Army personnel carry an injured flood victim on a stretcher for treatment at Hemkund in Uttarakhand.
Aerial view of Chamoli
An aerial view of stranded vehicles at a flood-hit area in Chamoli, Uttarakhand.