Fresh rains, landslides and cloudburst on Monday sent shudders in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, impeding operations to evacuate over 10,000 stranded people even as the State Government barred other States from undertaking unilateral rescue efforts.

Bad weather grounded most of the big military choppers from bringing people to safety. Small helicopters managed to evacuate only 138 from Badrinath, Pandukeshwar and Lambagar in Chamoli district.

Reports from Chamoli and Pauri districts said it was raining in the higher reaches hampering chopper operations.

Dehradun was also drenched with rain. Fresh landslips in Rudraprayag and on Badrinath highway also choked the route.

Besides rains and landslides, a cloudburst was reported in Mulan village in Paithani kasba in Pauri following incessant rains. Many houses collapsed but casualties, if any, were not immediately known.

With a number of States sending its teams to flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand, the State Government today decided not to allow any other State to undertake unilateral rescue efforts.

In Delhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the death toll in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand may cross 1,000 after the debris are cleared.

Uttarakhand Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya had yesterday said, “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.”

“About 5,000 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,” Retd Wing Commander Capt R S Brar, who has been entrusted with the task of overseeing air rescue operations, said.

Our Bureau adds: Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal have contributed one month of their salary to be donated towards relief efforts while Chiranjeevi has also earmarked Rs 1 crore of MPLADS funds for the same

NDRF teams have meanwhile screened out the areas of Kedarnath, Jungle Chatti, Gaurikund, Guptkashi, Sonprayag, Bhairav Chatti and Gaddi in Uttarakhand and rescued 59 more persons, total rescued now stands at 5,941 people rescued with 121 dead.

A new rope bridge installed by ITBP mountaineers on the Alaknanda river at Lambagad has helped evacuate 500 yatris.

(This article was published on June 24, 2013)
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