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Uttarakhand: Rescue ops to end today, thousands still stranded

1 July Dehradun: Various central and state agencies involved in the relief and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand will most likely wind up their mission on Monday even as the hundreds of pilgrims are still believed to be stranded at Badrinath.

According to reports, at least 1500 people, including locals, are still stranded at Badrinath, Maneri and Harsil, and efforts are on in full swing to evacuate them to safer places.

At least 3,000 people are still missing and authorities are grappling with the grim task of clearing the debris, searching dead bodies and disposing them properly.

Himalayan state’s Chief Minister Vijay Bahaguna on Sunday said that more than 1,300 villages remain cut-off by road and over 3,000 people are still missing.

Bahaguna also said that a team of 200 people, consisting of officials of various departments, including police, health, animal husbandry experts and sanitation, are being rushed to Kedarnath to collect DNA samples of bodies before the last rites are conducted.
Rains on Sunday affected the National Disaster Response Force’s (NDRF) plans to reach Kedarnath town and extricate the dead buried in the rubble and mud after the flash floods and landslides that ravaged the town.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry said that no outbreak of any water, food or air-borne disease has been reported from flood-affected areas so far. The Ministry also said that teams have been sent to all 13 districts of the state to monitor the situation.

Nearly 1,489 pilgrims were on Sunday taken to safety from Badrinath – 874 by air and 615 by road – an Uttarakhand government official said, adding only 300 pilgrims and 600 locals remained in the holy town with adequate food and medical care.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has put the figures at 1,500 stranded and 1,800 missing, though its vice chairman admits the toll could be much higher.

As the rescue missions are nearing completion, there is still no clarity over the number of people killed with casualty figures ranging from hundreds to thousands.

Close to 1.1 lakh people have been rescued so far, Reddy said.

While efforts are on bring the flood-hit state back to normalcy, a blame game has also started over accusations that the Uttarakhand government ignored the Met department’s warning about heavy rains and landslides and took no preventive measures to save people.

With PTI inputs


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