New Delhi, June 20: While the authorities fumble in rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand, officials are saying that thousands could have died in flash floods and landslide in Kedarnath area.
This morning, in a major embarrassment to Operation Rahat, the IAF choppers deployed to airlift passengers ran out of fuel. Later, the rescue operations from Jolly Grant airfiled in Dehradun were suspended following bad weather in Uttarakhand. There were light showers reported early this morning.
Meanwhile, in its report to the Union Home Ministry, the State Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre has said that casualties in the affected areas of Kedarnath may run into thousands with about 90 'dharamashalas' (rest houses for pilgrims) swept away in the flash floods. However, the toll has been kept officially at 150.
Rescue efforts are being concentrated as of now on Kedarnath shrine and its adjoining areas in Rudraprayag district, which has been the worst hit.
How it all happened
According to a rescued pilgrim, on Monday (June 17) at about 6.30 am, when a group of people had come out of their lodging to collect water, they saw a huge chunk of ice and rock breaking away behind the temple and rushing down the mountain. Locals and priests told the pilgrims to run to high ground as the glacier had broken up and a huge stream had breached.
Scores of villages remain under water and cannot be tracked. Hence there is uncertainty about the casualties.
Kailash yatra cancelled
The government has, meanwhile, cancelled the Kailash Manasarove Yatra after authorities declared roads unsafe for use.
Road to Uttarkashi re-opens, thousands on their way out
In great news for those stranded in Uttarkashi, the road leading to Uttarkashi, which was blocked due to incessant rains and floods, has been re-opened and thousand of stranded pilgrims are on their way out.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet blockquote"><p>200+ pilgrims stranded BhaironTemple U'khand w/o food,water Doesnt matter if u are non-believer urgent help needed.Will shortly send details</p>— Ronojoy Banerjee (@RonBanter) <a href="https://twitter.com/RonBanter/statuses/347619593243725824">June 20, 2013</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>