June 21 2013
10.43 pm: Rescue workers race against time
Rescue workers have a crucial 48-hour window to evacuate those stranded in the mountains of Uttarakhand as rains are expected to return there by Sunday evening.
The massive relief operations launched in the aftermath of flash floods triggered by heavy rainfall in the state have succeeded in evacuating 50,000 persons to safer places from the worst-hit districts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi.
Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth reviewed the humongous search, rescue and relief operations at a meeting of top officials from the Army, Air Force, ITBP, NDRF, BRO among others.
The India Meteorological Department Director General, who also attended the meeting, said light to moderate rains could commence over western Himalayas from Sunday evening and could increase to rather heavy rains in some areas from June 26.
"We have a 48-hour window and we would do the best we can to evacuate all those stranded," Air Marshal S B Deo told reporters here. The Indian Air Force has carried out 241 sorties today of 43 aircraft, including helicopters it has pressed into service for the rescue efforts.
A massive Mi-26 heavy-lift helicopter today airlifted a 9,000-liter bowser to the advanced landing ground at Dharasu, about 120 km from Rishikesh. The newly-acquired C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft is expected to land there with its full load of fuel (about 8 tonnes), which will be emptied into the bowser, thus activating the airstrip.
"We plan to launch rescue operations from Dharasu after that," Deo said adding the bowser would help refuel the helicopters. The Army Aviation unit has carried out 115 helicopter sorties and managed to reach Gangotri and Pindari glaciers from where it has rescued stranded pilgrims.
The Air Force has also activated its advanced landing ground in Gauchar near the Kedarnath-Badrinath axis soon after the state government requested it to shift the base of operations further north near the worst-affected areas. "We have transported a 25-bed hospital using our C-130J aircraft there in Dharasu which can treat over 100 people per day and can run without backup for seven days," WAC Senior Air Staff Officer Air Marshal P S Gill told reporters here.
Railways have pitched in with free travel to enable those rescued to reach their hometowns.
It was also operating special trains from Dehradun to Delhi, Ambala and Lucknow to ferry stranded pilgrims and tourists.
Besides the Army, personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Disaster Relief Force and BRO have been engaged in search, rescue and relief efforts.
Efforts were also on to operationalise 207 mobile towers of 739 such installations in the three affected districts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi.
As many as 207 mobile towers in the three districts were knocked down by the fury of the floods. Petroleum Ministry has set up aircraft refuelling centres at Rampur, Shimla and Gaucher and efforts were being made to make available LPG cylinders to people in affected areas. The Department of Telecom has also issued instructions to all telecom companies that the toll-free public utility emergency numbers must be operational and accessible to customers in affected areas by this evening.
Joining the relief operations, the Navy also deployed around 45 of its divers for rescuing people there.
Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has mounted a road rehabilitation programme in Uttarakhand where a total of about 13 km length of road at 100 places has been breached. Major landslides have occurred at 110 places and nine bridges have either been washed away or damaged.
Besides 4,000 BRO personnel and labourers, BRO has pressed into service more than 90 excavators and bulldozers for immediate clearance of road to facilitate relief and rescue operations.
BRO has also mobilised about 15 excavators and bulldozers from other BRO projects to expedite road clearance works. It said the priority for the organisation would be to develop foot tracks to enable evacuation of stranded persons on foot and gradually upgrade them to mule tracks. BRO is also airlifting light bridges for Badrinath and Kedarnath axis to bridge gaps and establish early connectivity.
NDRF personnel, who have been heli-dropped at various locations, have so far rescued 4324 people and recovered 41 dead bodies.
10.23 pm: Next two days crucial for rescue, says NDRF
The next two days are very crucial in terms of rescuing the maximum number of pilgrims and tourists stranded in rain-hit Uttarakhand as heavy showers may come anytime, a senior official today said.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Inspector General Sandeep Rai Rathore told reporters in Delhi that 22 and 23 June are "key dates" and all the agencies are maximising their efforts to carry out the majority of relief and rescue work during this time.
"We know that rains may come anytime and the Meteorological department has also predicted rains in the near future. So we are geared up for that," Rathore said.
NDRF has deployed 13 teams, comprising 1,000 people, in the state to carry out rescue operations alongside ITBP and Army contingents.
The officer also said his men are undertaking some "daring" operations to help those who are displaced and lost.
"Our Assistant Commandant Rajesh Yadav jumped from the helicopter in the Jangalchetti area to help create a helipad for landing of choppers so that people can be rescued.
"Our DIG J K S Rawat has reached Rambada near Kedarnath leading the first team of rescuers in the area," the IG said.
Rathore said close to 2,500 people were rescued from the Gaurigaon area by NDRF while his boys were still helping clear Kedarnath temple area of people who are stranded.
9.53 pm: All members of a family rescued
While the rescue operations are in full swing, and the rising death toll in the floods, there is some good news. The Gupta family who was stuck atop a mountain for five days have been rescued and brought back to safety.
All 10 members of the family from Faridabad were rescued today by the army from Gaurikund where they were stranede, said IBN 7 reporter Smitha Sharma.
The family had horrific stories to tell, but at least all of them made it back to safety. The children sent out messages to their best friends that they would see them soon,once school opens in July.
9.15 pm: 556 bodies recovered, toll will rise, says Bahuguna
A total of 556 bodies have been recovered in flood-hit Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said, adding that hundreds may have died in the terrible tragedy.
"(A total of) 556 bodies have been recovered and there are reports that more could be buried under the debris," Bahuguna told CNN-IBN news channel.
"This kind of disaster has never happened in the Himalayan history."
He said it would "take a long time to rebuild Uttarakhand" and that no pilgrimage to Kedarnath -- the worst hit place -- would be possible "for at least the next two years".
A weekend cloudburst in the Kedarnath region, home to one of the holiest Hindu shrines, and subsequent flooding in the hills have caused unprecedented destruction in Uttarakhand.
Until now, the officially admitted death toll was 200-plus. But officials and rescuers have warned that this could run into hundreds if not thousands.
Bahuguna admitted that Uttarakhand did not meet the norms of national disaster management, but said his administration was never warned about a cloudburst that ravaged Kedarnath.
The chief minister said about 30,000 people had been evacuated till now from the hills and other places and that there was no danger to those who were still stuck in certain areas.
"It's very tragic that so many people have died in this calamity... It will take another 15 days to complete evacuation."
He said that evacuation of the stranded by the military and other security forces was taking time because roads had been badly damaged.
Bahuguna said the Uttarakhand government was very close to putting up a doppler radar to predict weather "but there were certain concerns by various ministries".
He added: "No authority or body could have handled the calamity of this scale and magnitude."
9.12 pm: BSNL says it will restore mobile towers in 3 days
State-run telecom firm BSNL on Friday said it will restore within three days its mobile towers at places where most of the stranded people are located in flood-hit Uttarakhand.
"Our 270 BTS (mobile towers) were down till last evening across state. Out of these, we have restored 10 BTS at crucial locations where most of stranded people are located. In next three days most of the BTS will be up and running," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director R K Upadhyay told PTI.
He added that BSNL has restored 10 telephone exchanges out of 72 that were impacted by heavy rains and floods.
"The absence of a usable road network has prevented access to the affected areas for movement of the technical teams. Additionally, the lack of electricity means diesel needs to be supplied to the sites on an urgent basis to restart the affected sites and keep the operational ones running," industry body COAI's Director General Rajan S Mathews said.
"The fuel stations located in the high altitude regions have been damaged and are running dry, while the unusable roads are preventing the supply of diesel to the affected sites from other places," he added.
BSNL said it has restored network at Janki Chatti, Barkot and Phata where most of the people are stuck.
As per official estimates, around 50,000 people are stranded at various locations in Uttarakhand.
Mathews said bigger issue is of power supply which is impacting the telecom sites that were working.
"Special requests have been made to state authorities to make diesel available for mobile tower sites. All the headquarter of telecom companies are closely monitoring situation," he added.
BSNL said its mobile tower at Harsil is facing power crisis due to fault in power plant and shortage of diesel. The BSNL CMD said that floods have washed away optical fibre network due to which network at most of the places is not available.
"Around 4 to 5 kilometers of optical fibre cable has been washed away by the flood between Agustmuni and Tilwara. It will take 3 days for us to lay these fibres after which most of the towers will start functioning," Upadhyay said.
On the other hand, Department of Telecom has written to District Magistrate of Uttarakashi to help telecom operators in restoration of their network.
"As you are aware about present situation of Uttarakashi area where lot of tourist are facing problem due to non availability of communication network...you are requested to extend each and every possible support to telecom service providers to early restoration of telecom network in affected area," DoT said in its letter.
8.32 pm: Congress MLAs, judges to contribute salaries for victims
Leader of the Opposition in Madhya Pradesh Assembly Ajay Singh said here today that as per Congress President Sonia Gandhi's directives, Congress MLAs have decided to donate their one month's salary to provide relief to the people of rain-ravaged Uttarakhand.
The announcement comes after a similar initiative by the BJP yesterday.
Meanwhile, judges posted in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh too have unanimously decided to donate their one day's salary to provide relief to the state.
A total of 44 judges have decided to donate their one day's salary to assist the people of Uttarakhand after a call to this effect by district and session judge HP Singh.
Members of the judiciary in the district have also appealed to their counterparts in the rest of state to take similiar initiatives to help the people of Uttarakhand.
8.23 pm: Rescued Rajasthan trader recalled horror
After being stranded for days without food on a small stretch of hilly road that did not cave in, a Rajasthan trader made it to safety Friday with tales of human endurance and chilling details of nature’s fury that unleashed death and destruction in Uttarakhand.
The 36-year-old Vinod Kumar Sharma’s story was reinforced by details from Hindu activists who said that many lives could have been saved if only the massive rescue operation now underway had begun right after the torrential rains and cloudburst of last weekend.
Sharma, who hails from Rajasthan, was camping at Ram Bada after visiting the Kedarnath shrine when a sudden burst of very heavy rains swept away virtually everything including people, mules, houses, hotels, shops and mountainous roads. The government hotel he was in disappeared in no time.
Guided by instinct, Sharma and his family made it to a small stretch of road where eventually about 150 people took refuge, braving the rains that drenched them the first night and hoping for an early rescue.
“After a while most of us managed to take shelter in two huts that were still intact in the hills,” Sharma told IANS soon after he was rescued and he reached Dehradun. “We spent one night there. The next day, boulders suddenly came crashing from the mountains, killing two people instantly.
“We fled to safety… We were now caught in the open, praying that there would be no more tragedies… We had no food. We managed to light a fire to cook grain meant for cattle. The third day we had no food.
“Believe me, there were bodies all around the place where we had taken shelter. They had begun to rot. It was impossible to bear the stench,” the trader said.
Sharma and the others saw helicopters passing over Ram Bada, and wondered why no one was rescuing them even though they were frantically waving their clothes. He did not know then that the choppers were headed towards Kedarnath, which had suffered the worst destruction.
Chandragupta Vikram, the Dehradun president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), told IANS that human life was obliterated in Kedarnath “within just 15 minutes”.
“There was a huge explosion,” Vikram said. “It happened behind the Kedarnath shrine. It turned out to be a cloudburst. Suddenly the place was overwhelmed by water.
“With the water came huge boulders and tonnes of mud. It took just 15 minutes for the destruction at Kedarnath.”
Sharma and others in Uttarakhand told IANS that the death toll in the disaster was bound to be much more than the officially admitted 200-plus.
According to them, there were at least 15,000 people including locals as well as pilgrims besides hundreds of mules in Kedarnath when the calamity took place.
“Barring some, there is no trace of the people and animals,” Sharma said. He added: “As of today no one can give a precise figure of the dead and missing. It is impossible.”
Vijay told IANS from Rudrapryag, 85 km from Kedarnath, that the rescue operation going on now should have started immediately after the disaster.
“In the beginning, the state government didn’t even come to terms with the tragedy.”
Both Sharma and Vijay said the army and other security forces were doing a great job against tremendous odds.
“Many survivors got food from villagers,” Vijay said. “Unfortunately, many of the food packets air-dropped fell into rivers and in the hills.
“For days, many people were stranded in the hills, hungry and shivering.”
“I wish the administration had woken up days ago. Many lives would have been saved.”
7.54 pm: Air India announces concessional fares for flood victims
Air India on Friday announced concessional fares for flood-hit outbound passengers from Dehradun as it joined Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) to deploy their resources to help in search, rescue and evacuation operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand.
Coming to the aid of the stranded tourists and pilgrims, Air India announced it would charge 50 per cent of the basic fare for people travelling out of Dehradun to anywhere in the country.
The national carrier would also deploy special flights to evacuate people stranded for days in the flood-hit region, an airline official said.
PHHL has already deployed three helicopters in the search and rescue operations going on in the affected areas and would press into service additional resources in coordination with the state administration.
Air India top brass, including CMD Rohit Nandan, have donated a day's salary for the aid of the affected people and appealed to all other staffers to make similar contribution, airline sources said.
7.05pm: Updates from the India Army
Armed forces continues rescue and relief operations on a war footing:
The Armed Forces today continued their rescue and relief operations in the worst affected areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on a war footing. The present status of aid at 1800 Hrs on 21 June 2013 is as follows:
Assistance provided by the army
• Approximately 16,000persons have been rescued so far by Road and Army Helicopters.
• 115Helicopters Sorties have been carried out so far.
• Paratroopers have been dropped at Rudraprayag-Kedarnath.
• Plugging of Breach on Shivpuri Bund at Laksar is under progress.
• Army Aviation is operating in Pithoragarh, Joshimath, Dharchula & Gaucher and approximately 100 Paratroopers inserted in small teams to cut off areas.
• 6650 kg of relief material provided.
6.45pm Uttarkhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to CNN-IBN
Making it very clear that the recent cloud burst has taken "many precious lives", Uttarkhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today said that he had told the prime minister that the casualty may be in hundreds.
"From Gaurikund to Kedarnath, 556 bodies have been noticed by the army and ITBP personnel either floating or buried in slush," Bahuguna told Devil's Advocate in CNN-IBN. "But at present, we are faced with a stupendous work of saving lives."
Admitting that there were lapses in dealing with such a catastrophe, he said, "All this talk about not having a meeting of State Disaster Management Board is of no significance. Few hundreds or thousand trained people cannot handle any disaster of this magnitude. This is a similar situation as we had seen in the tsunami."
"I admit we do not meet the norms which are prescribed by the Comptroller and Auditor General or the Disaster Management Authority. I doubt any sate has. This kind of disaster has never happened in Himalayan history," Bahuguna said.
Unwilling to take the blame for being unprepared for this kind of nature's fury, the chief minister said, "Even the Central government do not have the mechanism to deal with a disaster covering 38,000 square miles. All the army generals up here, whom I have spoken to, have never seen any disaster of this magnitude."
Questions are also being raised about the nature of warning issued by the Indian Meteorological Department.
"The IMD warning was not clear enough. It only said there would heavy rains and snowfall in the upper ridges," the chief minister said. He lamented that the doppler radars could not be put on place on time.
"We were in continuous touch with the Centre. We were very close to setting up a doppler radar. However, it is our misfortune that before we can put up the radars this deluge struck us," Bahuguna said. However, the chief minister said that it is high time that the state pulls up its socks and do something in this regard.
6.23pm: The last prayer
6.15 pm IAF is the only lifeline in Uttarakhand heights
The IAF continues to be the lifeline between those stranded in the upper ridges and the world down below. Apart from flying out the old, infirm, children and women as top priority, the force is carrying fuel supplies to the extremely crucial for the forward helipads where many of the helicopters are doing quick shuttles.
The air force is also transporting food and medical supplies to the upper ridges as many sorties as possible, reported CNN-IBN's Anubha Bhonsle.
5.39pm Security forces recover 48 bodies in Haridwar
According to CNN-IBN, The bodies are of those who were killed in the flash floods caused by incessant rains.
"The 48 bodies have been recovered in the Ganga. We are documenting and securing them properly in mortuaries. Some bodies are highly decomposed. In order to identify them forensic science laboratory team has been called. The photos of dead bodies are taken and we will be flashing them in neighbouring states for their identification," said Haridwar senior superintendent of police, Rajiv Swaroop.
They are now being identified and photographed in order to let relatives know.
The official count of those who lost their lives in Uttarakhand is now more than 200.
5.34pm: Update from the Ministry of Petroleum
Availability of Petroleum Products in flood-affected regions:
ATF — Aviation Refuellers have been positioned at Rampur, Shimla and Gauchar. 42 refuellings comprising of 36,000 litres have already been carried out from these locations between 19th and 20th evening for the helicopters involved in rescue operations. Refuellers are also on the way to be positioned at Joshimath, Bageshwar, Dharasu and Pithoragarh. Backup supplies for these refuellers have been arranged from Ambala and Panipat Terminals. District Administration is providing assistance to reach the refuellers/backup supplies to all destinations due to bad traffic/ road conditions.
LPG — Efforts are being made to supply LPG to the distributors from Haridwar and Haldwani Bottling plants in Uttarakhand. One truck load has been dispatched on 17th and 18th June 2013 and 2 loads dispatched on 19th June, 2013. 21 truck loads are in transit to the affected markets. Both the above bottling plants are operating normally and all efforts are being made to dispatch loads to the affected markets through open routes in coordination with State Government. LPG cylinders have already started reaching Uttarkashi.
5.24pm: Operation Rahat in full swing
5.17 pm When the talk is about humanity, no religion exists
Lucknow: The All India Shia Personal Board (AISPLB) has set up a relief fund for the people hit by the nature's fury in Uttarakhand, and has asked the Muslim community to generously donate to it.
"Humanity is the biggest religion for all and everyone should come forward to help the sufferers. We appeal to Muslims to donate open-heartedly," AISPLB spokesperson Maulana Yasoob Abbas said.
Abbas said the calamity is a result of over-exploitation of natural resources.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangimahli also appealed to individuals and Muslim organisations to donate generously for the tragedy-hit people.
Meanwhile, people from Muslim community today offered special prayers for the Uttarakhand victims at various mosques across the state capital.
Prayers were organised in Asifi, Tile Wali Masjid, Idgah, Dargah Hazrat Abbas, Ek Minara, Tehsin and Juma mosques of the city.
5.07pm Ground report from Smita Sharma, IBN7
Several tourists from Nepal who have been evacuated from Joshimath in Uttarakhand were airlifted via ropes by the army and brought to Karnaprayag.
The Gauchar and Fata helipads were also activated. Around 35 sorties so far were carried out from Gauchar today. Initially the focus was on Kedarnath. Now the focus is on Rambara, Gaurikund, Joshimath and Badrinath.
The evacuated people have been brought to Gauchar, registered, given medical and food aid. The state government is plying buses to send them to Srinagar and thereon to Dehradun or other accessible options.
It is the sixth day of the calamity and priority remains to evacuate the survivors. Body count has not begun.
The opening of road routes opening is key since that maximises evacuation. The air sorties have only limited capacity.
5.01pm Pilot rescued of crashed chopper
A private chopper crashed at Junglejatti in Uttarakhand injuring the pilot. Responding to the pilots distress calls, an IAF Cheetah helicopter which was flying in the vicinity immediately reached the spot. IAF Sqn Ldr Vipin rescued injured pilot.
4.55pm Update from the Ministry of Railways
— Special trains have been arranged to evacuate stranded persons from the calamity hit Uttarakhand areas.
— Special Trains have started running from Haridwar. Yesterday i.e. on 20.6.2013, three specials were run to Lucknow, Delhi and Ambala respectively. More specials are being planned as per the requirements.
— In coordination with Government of Uttarakhand, Indian Railways has decided to carry stranded passengers free of cost to their respective destinations.
— Railway administration is ensuring that sufficient Empty Coaching Rakes are sent to Haridwar/Dehradun.
— A Task Force has been set up at the level of Railway Board under Chairman Railway Board, Shri Vinay Mittal to monitor the situation.
— Northern Railway and its Muradabad Division have fully geared up for making appropriate arrangements (Uttarakhand falls mostly under Muradabad Railway Division of Northern Railway).
— The following Senior officers have been deputed as Special officers in charge of four most crucial points:
I. Dehradun-Sh. Sanjeev Garg, Chief Commercial Manager/Freight Marketing–Mob.no. 09717630953
II. Rishikesh -Sh. D. K. Singh, Chief Commercial Manager/Project-Mob.no. – 097171630969
III. Haridwar -Sh. Hitendra Malhotra, Additional Divisional Railway Manager /Moradabad-Mob.no. 09760534001
IV. New Delhi -Sh. Vivek Srivastava, Additional Divisional Railway Manager/Delhi-Mob.no. -09717631001
These Officers are maintaining liaison and co-ordination with the State Civil Authorities and ensuring management and dispersal of passengers by Train services, running of special trains and also ensuring setting up of passenger help booths at these locations to be manned round the clock.
— The following Helpline nos. have been installed:
I. Haridwar: 09760534054/09760534055
II. Dehradun: 01352-622131
— RPF officers with adequate contingent of Inspectors/constables have been deputed at these locations.
— Doctors and paramedical staff in sufficient numbers have been deployed at these Stations.
— Railways have ensured setting up of additional Booking and Enquiry Counters at above Locations for handling the additional requirement of Booking, Enquiries and Refund etc.
— Adequate arrangement of Catering facilities and Drinking water has been ensured at these locations.
— Frequent Announcements through the Public Address System regarding status of Trains and other Passenger related services has been ensured.
4.50pm Updates from defence, home ministries
Ministry of Defence
IAF UPDATE (Till 1230 Hrs of 21 June 2013)
—IAF has committed 13 more aircraft to 'Op Rahat' taking the total number of aircraft to 43.
—IAF is also activating landing grounds - Gauchar and Dharasu in Uttarakhand to establish air bridge for chopper movement.IAF plans to operate ALH and Cheetah from Gauchar.
—A heavylift Mi- 26 has already landed at Gauchar with 30 barrels of fuel and 70 paratroopers.
—Mi 26 will continue to operate in this area to maintain supply of aviation fuel and rescue work. It will also provide helilift to the heavy equipment of BRO for repairs and construction work as well as support construction of temporary helipads for better evacuation of those stuck or stranded using small helicopters.
Ministry of Home Affairs
In pursuance of announcement of the Prime Minister, GOI has released an amount of Rs. 145.00 crore from SDRF (State Disaster Relief Fund) to the Government of Uttarakhand on 20th June 2013.
4.42 pm A private chopper deployed for rescue operations in Uttarakhand crashed but the pilot is safe, as per initial reports. There were no other passengers in the chopper.
4.35 pm Air India to operate additional flights to fly out stranded people from Dehradun
4.05 pm DG ITBP Ajay Chadha addresses media
"We hope to rescue several people from Badrinath by tomorrow. We have cleared Kedarnath. The evacuation was carried out by air and the helipad there was extended," Chadha said.
"We have reserves at Bareilly and Dehradun but I don't think we will need to use them. The Army has also inducted more people. The number of stranded people is also coming down," he said.
3.20 pm: Priority is rescuing children, women, says Army
Lt General of Army Central Command Anil Chait said the force and other teams have rescued at least 33,192 people so far.
"We are constructing temporary bridges and trying hard to restore road links. We are focusing from segment to segment. Chait further said that the rescue teams are now focusing on the children, women and wounded," he said.
The Army also hopes to restore the road link between Harsil and Uttarkashi by Saturday.
Chait further said it was not possible to give a timeline. "No more deaths will occur if a person is not ill," he said.
"I assure India especially Uttarakhand that we will bring back the trapped to their families."
He further said that choppers from across the country, and not only IAF and Army choppers should be used in Uttarakhand to rescue people.
3. 15 pm: Ration, utensils immediately needed in Uttarakhand
Voluntary organisations working with the government to provide relief in the flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand have said dry ration and cooking materials will be required in coming days.
Items such as utensils, buckets, medicines, hygiene kits are also immediately needed.
3. 00 pm: 48 bodies recovered in Haridwar, identification process on
Forty eight bodies have been recovered in Haridwar and police officials are securing them in mortuaries.
Haridwar SSP Rajiv Swaroop said the bodies are being photographed and flashed to neighbouring states so that they can be identified.
He also said that some of the bodies are highly decomposed and Forensic Science Laboratory teams have been called to help identify them.
2. 50 pm: Narendra Modi to leave for Uttarakhand today
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Uttarakhand later today, his office tweeted. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde along with other home ministry officials will visit the state tomorrow.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had visited Uttarakhand on Wednesday.
2.22 pm: Indian railways to carry all stranded passengers free of cost to their destinations
Minister for Information and broadcasting, Manish Tewari, who gave an update on the status of relief operations, said that 90 sorties were conducted today using 17 IAF helicopters and 11 private helicopters in Uttarakhand. He added that the NRDF has recovered 18 dead bodies and said that efforts were being made to ensure the uninterrupted supply of LPG, gas and motor spirits to affected areas.
"Search, rescue and relief operations are being carried out by the Army, IAF, private helipcopters, SSB, ITBP", he added.
Tewari added that Indian railways had decided that they would carry all stranded passengers free of cost to their destinations.
In terms of telecommunications, Tewari said that 207 towers were down in the areas in the areas of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi, adding that measures were in place to get them back up online and functional. "Emergency numbers 100, 101, 108 have been made operational", he said.
Two 30M foot bridges being airlifted for deployment in Kedarnath and Joshimath #Floodrelief
— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) June 21, 2013
2.07 pm: Uttarakhand death toll at 207, may rise further says Shinde
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said that the death toll from Uttarakhand is at 207 and is likely to rise further. The Home Minister was also reported as saying that 34,000 people had been evacuated, but added that a further 50,000 people were still stranded.
CNN-IBN also reported Shinde as saying that 34 helicopters were presently on rescue missions, but had pointed out a lack of coordination in relief efforts. "There is a problem in communication. VK Duggal has been made nodal officer", he said.
Duggal will be in Dehradun from Saturday to coordinate relief efforts.
1. 40 pm: Former Home Secy VK Duggal made nodal officer
Sources have told CNN-IBN that former Home Secretary VK Duggal has been made a nodal officer to oversee rescue operations in the flood affected areas of Uttarakhand.
On Saturday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and other ministry officials will visit Uttarakhand tomorrow.
1. 35 pm: Sonia asks party MPs, MLAs, to contribute to relief fund
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has asked all party MPs and MLAs to contribute a month's salary to the rescue operations in Uttarakhand.
The Chhattisgarh BJP MPs and MLAs have also decided to contribute a month's salary to help rescue operations.
1. 15 pm: No delay in rescue operations, says NDMA
Vice Chairman on NDMA Shashidar Reddy denied there was a delay in rescue operations in the flood affected areas and said what was required was greater coordination between various rescue teams.
Families of those stranded in Uttarakhand had protested against the government alleging that the rescue teams were not doing their best to save people.
Angry relatives of missing pilgrims gherao Uttarakhand DIsaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya in Dehradun pic.twitter.com/Z9dddxLmnm
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 21, 2013
1. 00 pm: Shinde to visit Uttarakhand tomorrow NDMA Vice Chairperson Shashidhar Reddy said Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will visit Uttarakhand on Saturday. Reddy was speaking after a meeting called by Shinde to review of the rescue operations in Uttarakhand. He also said further course of action has been discussed with the Home Minister. Reddy also said that alternate routes and bridges are being built by rescue teams. He also refuted charges that there was a delay in response and said there needs to be more coordination. Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Cheeranjeevi has asked that the government declare the Uttarakhand floods as a national disaster inorder to raise adequate funds so the state can be restored. Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh also said the Congress will provide all possible help required in the rescue operations.
12. 20 pm: 'Centre of faith has turned into burial ground'
Terming it as the "worst tragedy of the millennium", Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat said, "It will take us at least five years to recover from the extensive damages caused to the entire infrastructure network in the Kedarnath area which is the worst affected".
Rawat, who had visited the Kedarnath area, said that he spent five hours there and was shocked to see the extent of the damage caused to the buildings and area adjoining the shrine.
"The centre of faith has turned into a burial ground. Bodies are scattered in the area. Only the sanctum sanctorum is intact," he said.
11. 20 am: 1100 roads damaged, may take 3 years to recover
Government sources have told CNN-IBN that around 1100 roads in the state have been damaged a recovery may take at least 2-3 years. Sources also say 94 bridges have been washed away and in Rudraprayag alone, 26 bridges have been washed away.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government has announced a donation of Rs 1 crore to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for the flood affected people of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
10. 40 am: Angry relatives block roads outside Jolly Grant airport
Relatives of those missing and stranded in Uttarakand have blocked roads outside Dehradun's Jolly Grant airport and are demanding information from the government.
While extensive rescue operations are on across Uttarakhand, some pilgrims stranded in remote areas are facing shortage of food and water. Rescue officials had earlier said that poor landing facilities and narrow valleys are hampering rescue efforts.
10. 15 am: PM appeals for contributions to relief fund Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appealed to all citizens to donate to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and actively participate in helping those stranded in the flood-affected areas. Contributions can be made at the PMO's office website www.pmindia.nic.in
9. 50 am: Complete evacuation in Badrinath will take 5-6 days Uttarakhand District Magistrate Chamoli has said that rescue operations in Badrinath, where around 5000 people are stranded, will take at least 5-6 days.
9. 45 am: Army establishes access to Hemkund, 340 rescued Army Central Command has said that they have established access to Hemkund, where 340 people have been rescued. Brigadier Uma Maheshwar has said that an Army rescue team has reached Rambada and 1500 people are likely to be rescued today. 9. 30 am: NDRF teams reach Rambara NDRF teams have reached Rambara from where 17 bodies have been recovered and 885 people who were stranded there have been rescued. An ITBP team which was on its way there were stuck at Jungeljatti, where there is a huge landslide. Meanwhile, relative of people stranded in Uttarakhand have blocked roads outside the Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun.
9. 10 am: Kedarnath complete, Army heads to Badrinath where thousands stranded
After completing evacuation in Kedarnath, rescue teams are now heading to Badrinath were around 7,000 people are stranded. A 28 km long road leading to Badrinath is washed away, say Army officials. As of now, only four choppers are operating to rescue people in Badrinath.
Injured pilgrims rescued from Guptkashi,Uttarakhand. pic.twitter.com/2Fm7U39DB2
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 21, 2013
9. 00 am: ITBP team on their way to Rambara
Rambara still inaccessible, ITBP team on its way there but are stuck at Jungeljatti, where there is a huge landslide.
8. 10 am: Day 4 of rescue ops - IAF, Army choppers ready for sorties
IAF and Army helicopters detachments are in place in Gauchar and Gaurikund. In Dehradun, sorties from Jolly Grant Airport have not begun as yet, reports IBN 7's Smita Sharma.
Meanwhile, sources have told CNN-IBN that evacuation operations may continue for another week, while air rescue operations are likely to be on for the next three days.
— Subhajit Sengupta (@SubhajitSG) June 21, 2013
7. 55 am: All stranded between Kedarnath-Guptkashi has been evacuated
Rescue operations in the crucial Kedarnath-Guptkashi valley have been completed but around 7000 pilgrims are still stuck in Badrinath and the Uttarakhand government says around 3,000 pilgrims are stuck in Ghangaria.
So far, 33,000 have been rescued but at least 50,000 are still stranded across Uttarakhand.
7. 20 am: Chhattisgarh BJP MPs, MLAs to help flood-hit Uttarakhand
BJP's MPs, MLAs and other elected representatives in Chhattisgarh have decided to contribute one month's salary to help flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.
"BJP MPs, MLAs, mayors, corporators and other elected representatives will contribute one month's salary to Uttarakhand government to help relief efforts in the flood-hit region," BJP spokesperson Shivratan Sharma said in Raipur today.
7. 05 am: Uttar Pradesh sends medical team to Uttarakhand
Assuring all possible help to the Uttarakhand government, Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav today directed officials to rush a team of doctors for extending medical aid to the people in the rain-ravaged state.
A team of 14 doctors of Ram Manohar Lohia Medical Institute, Lucknow would be send to Uttarakhand on Friday, an official spokesman said.
On the chief minister's directives, a helpline has been set up in the office of the relief commissioner here for the benefit of the stranded people, the spokesman said. (PTI)
Updates for 20 June end
10.39 pm: Find your relatives, friends through Goolgle's Person Finder
Search engine giant Google has launched an application “Person Finder” to offer information on missing people in flood-affected areas in the country, including Uttarakhand.
Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster, Google said in a blogpost.
“Since last week, the state of Uttarakhand in India has been grappling with severe floods. Given that most of these areas in the state are highly inaccessible with intermittent communication, Google Crisis team bring you the Person Finder,” the blog post by Jayanth Mysore, Google APAC Senior Product Manager, said.
Here is the link to it:
10.10 pm: Sonia Gandhi monitoring biggest rescue operation in recent history
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is monitoring the rescue and relief operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, a party statement said Thursday.
According to the statement, one of the biggest rescue operations in recent history has been mounted by the central and state governments, in which nearly 12,000 people have been rescued, and provided food, shelter and accommodation.
Nearly 5,000 people are still stranded, and every effort is being made to trace and rescue them.
"The entire operation is being monitored by the Congress president for the last two days," the statement issued by Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said.
"She has instructed the two chief ministers and party units to help in the rescue operations. State party units have been asked to collect relief material and send it to the affected areas. The Youth Congress has sent rescue material. Party workers at the national level and in states are being told to help in the rescue operation," the statement said.
Sonia Gandhi will be visiting relief camps and other affected areas soon, the statement added.
9.09 pm: 300 airlifted from Himachal by IAF
Over 300 persons were airlifted toady by the IAF and state choppers from various places in Himachal Pradesh's rain ravaged Kinnaur tribal district cut off by road due to landslides.
Over 550 persons have been airlifted during past three days and 400 people, who are still stranded, remain to be evacuated, Deputy Commissioner Kinnaur, Capt J M Pathania said.
Thirteen sorties were conducted for evacuating 301 persons from Sangla, Reckong Peo, Pooh, Nako and Gyabong, who were brought to Rampur, he said, adding efforts were afoot to airlift the remaining 400 persons.
Pathania said teams comprising of officers of Revenue, Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and other departments had been constituted at sub divisional level to assess the loss caused due to natural disaster.
Four teams each in Pooh Division and Kalpa and Nichar had been constituted and they had been asked to submit the report within two weeks to provide all possible assistance to the affected people, he said.
National Disaster Response Force had been sent to Ropa Kanda area for carrying out rescue and rehabilitation of about 12 shepherds along with their herd, Pathania said. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who reviewed the situation at a meeting in Mandi, said heavy damages were reported in various parts of the state due to incessant rains, landslides and snow, particularly in Kinnaur, which suffered
maximum loss of life, damage to roads and property.
The state experienced 155 per cent excess rainfalls and normal life was badly disrupted in Kinnaur and Sirmaur districts which received 1,229 percent and 798 percent excess rainfall, respectively.
Fourteen persons were reported dead in the state due to natural disaster, out of which 10 died in Kinnaur district, two each in Shimla and Sirmour districts. Over 300 houses had been damaged and loss of over 130 cattle heads were reported as per preliminary reports.
9.01 pm: Cabinet secy asks BSNL to restore mobile phone lines
Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth today held a review meeting with top central and Uttarakhand government officials and issued directions to speed up rescue operations in the flood-ravaged state.
Seth also instructed BSNL to repair mobilephone towers in the state and restore telephony in the next few days. A statement issued after the meeting said that coordinated efforts are being made to provide succour to the stranded pilgrims, tourists and locals by multiple agencies like Defence, ITBP, BRO, NDRF and state government
"The government of India is supplementing the efforts of the state government for requirement of food, medicines and fuel, wherever required.
"39 helicopters from the Air Force and Army airlifted about 2,000 people despite cloudy weather. The airlifting operations will resume early tomorrow morning," the statement said.
"BSNL has been directed to immediately repair the telephone towers to restore communication in the next 2-3 days. About 8,000 tonnes of foodgrains are available with the state Government. Arrangements to ensure fuel availability have also been made," it said.
8.51 pm: Rescue efforts race against time over impending bad weather
The Indian army, Air force, NDRF and ITBP are carrying out rescue efforts in full swing as the MeT department has predicted that the weather may turn bad within 36 to 48 hours.
The debris and rubble around Kedarnath town has made it difficult for choppers to land, and space is being created for a helicopter to land, reported Times Now.
While some have been evacuated, others still in stranded may have to spend the night where they are before rescue workers are able to reach them.
8.15 pm: Rajnath Singh wants flood to be declared as natural calamity
BJP president Rajnath Singh, who undertook an aerial survey of the flashflood hit districts of Uttarakhand, today demanded the huge tragedy be declared a national calamity.
"The tragedy is of unprecedented scale in which the number of lives lost must run into thousands so it should be declared a national calamity," the BJP chief told reporters at the Jollygrant airport here on his return from the aerial tour of the affected areas.
Describing the rescue efforts in affected areas as inadequate considering the magnitude of the calamity, Singh said the number of helicopters engaged in the operations should be increased and National Disaster Response Force deployments strengthened to evacuate people stranded in high altitude areas.
Claiming that the number of calamity victims must run into thousands, he said a proper estimate of the losses must be prepared and made public.
Former Bihar Minister and BJP legislator Ashwini Chaubey, who also accompanied Singh, said he was stranded in Kedarnath for three days and his cries for help fell on deaf ears.
Terming the claims being made by the state government on the rescue measures being adopted as devoid of substance, Chaubey said two of his relatives were killed in the calamity and five of his kin are still missing.
8.04 pm: PM appeals for donations to support victims
As the magnitude of tragedy caused in Uttarakhand continues to unfold, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today issued an appeal to the public for generous donations to support the victims who have suffered "extensive devastation".
In his appeal, Singh said the central government is extending all cooperation and assistance to the state government in rescue and relief operations.
He said "extensive devastation" has been caused due to cloudbursts and floods in the state and a large number of people have died and property worth crores of rupees has been damaged.
"At this moment, affected people need our help to tide over the calamity that has fallen upon them, to survive and to rebuild their lives. I request all citizens of India to stand with our distressed fellow countrymen, and actively participate in the national effort to support them at this difficult time," the Prime Minister said.
"I appeal to all citizens to donate generously to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund," he said.
The appeal comes against the backdrop of the Prime Minister's announcement of Rs 1000 for rescue and relief operations in the state.
7.46 pm: Dehradun District Magistrate praises Indian Air force for relief work
Dehradun District Magistrate BB Purushottam said that the Indian Air force has done a wonderful job in rescuing stranded people from flood hit areas of Uttarakhand.
" The Indian Air force has done a wonderful job. Five more MI 17 helicopters have been deployed. We are coming up with a temporary helipad in temp helipad Gaudigaon. There is one place two kilometres where choppers are unable to reach because of a 70 degree angle," he told Times Now.
"More than 2,000 people are stranded between Uttarkashi and Guptkashi. We hope to airlift them in the next two-three days. The air force will set up a detachment by tomorrow allowing us to save more lives," he said.
6.51 pm: Jairam Ramesh announces Rs 340 cr for Uttarakhand
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today announced a separate Rs 340 crore special package for Uttarakhand for constructing village roads in the flood-ravaged hill state.
In view of the calamity, the Rural Development Ministry is also working for giving special assistance to Uttarakhand for constructing village houses under its ambitious Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).
The minister's decision came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 1,000 crore special flood relief package to the state.
"Ministry of Rural Development is working on special road and housing package for Uttarkhand in view of calamity. Next week we are going to consider 82 roads and 27 bridges — total 664 kms — at a total cost of about Rs 340 crores. This we will sanction next week," Ramesh said.
This programme will be implemented in 18 months, he said.
In February this year, the ministry had already sanctioned 118 roads and 8 bridges -- 1,140 kms in all -- at a total cost of Rs 472 crore for Uttarakhand.
"Over and above this, special package for roads will be sanctioned next week," he said.
The normal allocation for Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) in 2013-14 was about 14,000 houses for poor families at the rate of Rs 75,000. This will cost around Rs 105 crore.
"But they are entitled to special assistance because of this unprecedented natural calamity. The state government will make a damage assessment on how many families have lost their houses, then they will come back, we will examine their demands," Ramesh said indicating that the ministry was ready to sanction another Rs 100 crore for a rural housing programme in the state.
6.47 pm: Temple officials say no Kedarnath, Badrinath yatra for 3 yrs
Pilgrimage to the shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath in Uttarakhand will not be able to resume for three years due to the extensive damage caused by heavy rains and floods in the last few days.
According to officials of the two shrines, the two pilgrimage towns have been so badly devastated that there was nothing "but mud, devastation and death" around the highly revered temples visited by millions.
The chances of reviving the pilgrimage "for the next few years" was grim, chief executive Officer of the Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee BD Singh told IANS.
"What we are seeing is very painful and unbelievable. We don't expect the Char Dham Yatra to resume in the next three years," he said.
6. 20 pm: Stand with distressed fellow countrymen, PM tells India
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday issued an appeal requesting Indian citizens to stand united with those who are stranded in the flooded areas of Uttarakhand.
"I request all citizens of India to stand with our distressed fellow countrymen," Singh said in his statement.
5. 26 pm: Kedarnath temple was full of dead bodies, says BJP leader
Former BJP minister Ashwini Chaubey recalled the horror of spending four nights inside the Kedarnath temple by saying that he was surrounded by dead bodies and he saw people dying in front of his eyes.
" I was stuck in Kedarnath for four nights. Five members of my family are missing. I have spent nights on dead bodies. More than 800 people were there inside the temple with me. M any died in front of my eyes inside the temple," he said.
He blamed the state government for the situation and said, "Dead bodies were floating inside the temple. There is no help from state government. I have never seen such calamity in my life. More than 15000 to 20000 people have died," Chaubey said.
4.59 pm: Govt will deploy more helicopters in U'Khand, says Shinde
Government has decided to deploy more helicopters in Uttarakhand to rescue over 60,000 people still trapped in the rain-ravaged hill state and expedite relief operations.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said so far 22 helicopters have been used to evacuate stranded people to safer locations and through hundreds of sorties they rescued 22,392 people.
"But 22 helicopters are not enough. So, we have requested the Defence Ministry to deploy more helicopters to expedite the rescue operations in Uttarakhand. The Defence Ministry agreed to our request and hopefully the additional choppers will be deployed soon," he told reporters here.
4. 48 pm: Naveen Patnaik too sends in Rs 5 cr for victims
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik too sent in Rs 5 crore as assitance for the flood affected Uttarakhand.
4. 41 pm: Nitish Kumar contributes Rs 5 cr for flood victims
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today contributed Rs five crore for relief work among the victims of the Uttarakhand flash flood.
A state government officer has gone to Dehradun with the cheque of Rs five crore on the instruction of the chief minister, Anjani Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary to the CM, said.
Kumar has made this contribution from the Chief Minister Relief fund, he said adding the chief minister has expressed his deep condolence for the victims of the natural calamity in the mountain state.
Hundreds of people from Bihar are among those trapped in the flash flood in Uttarakhand. BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Choubey is among them.
4.32 pm: Chhattisgarh sends chopper to bolster rescue efforts
In a bid to bolster the rescue effort in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh's BJP government Thursday said it would send a 12-seater hired helicopter to Dehradun to rescue people stranded there by floods and landslips.
"The chopper will begin an intensive rescue drive in the flood- and landslide-hit Uttarakhand from 7.30 am onwards Friday," a top state government official said, adding that "the decision to deploy the chopper in Uttarakhand was taken on the special initiative of Chief Minister Raman Singh."
Reports say many people from Chhattisgarh travelling in Uttarakhand as pilgrims were either dead or missing since last weekend, when the Himalayan state was hit by an unprecedented flash-flood that set off landslides.
The Chhattisgarh government has also announced assistance of Rs.5 crore to Uttarakhand.
4.18 pm: DG ITBP says all efforts being taken to rescue stranded people
DG ITBP Ajay Chaddha said that the force is making all efforts to rescue stranded people.
"About 1,000 ITBP personnel have been deployed. All people in and around Kedarnath have been evacuated. Our first priority is women and children," he said.
Chaddha said that connectivity is the biggest challenge that the ITBP is facing in the rescue operations.
4:05 pm: Rajnath Singh says Uttarakhand floods are a national calamity
After a aerial survey of the flood ravaged areas of Uttarakhand, BJP party chief Rajnath Singh said more relief measures were needed.
"The Uttarakhand situation should be declared a national disaster.The number of helicopters should be increased," the BJP President said.
The BJP president said that they were not indulging in a blame game.
"This situation is not for blame game,we are willing to help the Uttarakhand government in anyway possible," Singh said.
3. 43 pm: State government declares 3-day state mourning
The Uttarakhand government today declared a three-day state mourning in view of the calamity triggered by incessant rains in the state.
"Massive damages have been caused to life and property by the flash floods and landslides brought by torrential rains in their wake.A three-day state mourning from June 20-22 has been declared in view of the tragedy," Secretary, Administration, S S Negi said.
The tricolour will fly at half-mast on government buildings and institutions during the period.
No inaugural or ceremonial functions will be held across the state during the period, he said. (PTI)
3. 38 pm: List of roads that have been opened for vehicular traffic
The Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre today reopened many roads blocked by landslides including Joshimath-Karnaprayag, Rishikesh-Uttarakshi, Dharasu-Chamba,Gochar,Rudraparayag-Shrinagar-Rishikesh, Pauri-Kotdwar, Guptkashi-Mayali-Tibtiya-Tehri, Uttarkashi-Chinyalisaur, Karnaparayag-Ranikhet-Kathgodam, Dharasu-Badkot- Damra-Dehradun.
Other roads which have been reopened are Mayali-Tiwara-Rudraprayag, Chainyalisaur-Subakholi -Mussoorie, Ghansali-Tipri-Devprayag, Ghansali- Tipri- New Tehri, Tehri-Chamba-Mussorie, Chamba-Rishikesh and Tuni-Chakrata-Sahiya-Kalsi-Dehradun. (PTI)
3. 25 pm: Priority is relief and rescue, says Centre
Amid reports of rapid urbanisation leading to flash floods in Uttarakhand, Central government on Friday said its priority was to focus on relief and rescue operations in the rain-ravaged hill state and "post-mortem can be done later".
"It is not necessary to get into that. The post-mortem can be done later," I&B Minister Manish Tewari told reporters. He was responding to a volley of questions on whether unregulated development in the hills or faulty weather forecasts were responsible for the magnitude of the devastation due to heavy rainfall in Uttarakhand.
Tewari said the Centre has given top priority to relief and rescue operations and has been coordinating with the state government in this regard.
He also asked political parties, "who are quick with advice," to try and mobilise their cadre and contribute towards relief efforts in the affected state. (PTI)
3. 10 pm: Taking measures to bring stranded TN tourists home, says Jaya
About 400 tourists from Tamil Nadu are stranded in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand and government would take all steps on "war-footing basis" to bring them back, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said today.
However, she said the people from Tamil Nadu were 'safe'.
After chairing a review meeting at the Secretariat, the chief minister said in a statement that a high level committee, headed by the Government of Tamil Nadu special representative at New Delhi, has been formed that would leave for Dehradun to bring the pilgrims back to Tamil Nadu.
2:20 pm: Supreme Court directs Centre and Uttarakhand govt to ensure rescue of those affected by floods
The Supreme Court has also got involved in the rescue of people stranded due to the flooding in Uttarakhand and has directed the Centre and Uttarakhand state government to make an "all-out effort" to rescue them.
The centre and state government have been directed to provide adequate helicopters for the rescue work.
The apex court also directed the Centre and state government to file a report on the relief and rehabilitation work in the state by June 25.
However, it's still not clear in what context the Supreme Court issued these directions.
2:10 pm: Madhya Pradesh sends team of doctors to Uttarakhand
A seven-member special team from Madhya Pradesh today reached Dehradun to coordinate with Uttarakhand officials for relief and rescue operations.
The decision to dispatch the special team, led by public relations minister Laxmikant Sharma, was taken by state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan yesterday after visiting Haridwar and having a word with his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna, official sources said.
The team comprising officials and doctors will set up a control room for people from MP at Haridwar and extend all possible assistance to them for retuning home.
After reviewing updated information from Uttarakhand at the emergency meeting called by Chouhan, the government decided to send the special team. (PTI)
2:00 pm: 1800 out of 2100 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh missing
IBN7 reports that the Andhra Pradesh state has declared that there are 1800 pilgrims from the state who are still missing.
1. 15 pm: Uttarakhand CM heckled by protesters
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was reportedly heckled by protesters in Joshimath, were he had gone to visit the rescued pilgrims.
The protesters shouted slogans against him and claimed they got no assistance from the government.
1. 10 pm: Rescue operations on in Himachal
Meanwhile, in Himachal Pradesh, rescue operations picked up pace in rain-battered tribal Kinnaur district with two IAF and one state chopper making sorties to rescue 600 tourists and others stranded in remote areas.
The sorties started at 6.30 am in the morning and people stranded at various places for past five days are being dropped at Rampur, official sources said.
The sorties to Sangla, Rekong Peo, Nako, Pooh and other cut off places would continue till the evening and a large number of people are expected to be evacuated by the evening.
12. 50 pm: Army to setup temporary helipads in Uttarakhand
An Army official has said that they will deploy a force of 100 paratroopers on the Gaurikund Somprayag road to assist rescue operations.
The Army also plans to set-up temporary helipads in Uttarakhand to facilitate rescue operations in the area.
12. 40 pm: All necessary help will be provided, says Manish Tewari
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said that the government is cognizant to the situation prevalent in Uttarakhand as well as other parts of the country and the central government will be there to provide all help needed.
He further said that required man power and material has been provided to try and alleviate the situation as early as possible.
Tiwari was speaking after a Cabinet meeting today.
11. 45 am: Kedarnath road completely destroyed
IBN7's Punit Tripathi sends in this report from Rudraprayag: The Alaknanda river has caused a lot of damage in the Rudraprayag area. Bridges and whole villages have been washed away. The road to Kedarnath has been destroyed. Even if repair work starts on the road, it will take months to fix. This entire route is extremely dangerous.
Karnataka Residents' helpline: 080 22253707
Tehri Helpline no: 01376 233433
Chamoli helpline no: 01372 251437
Uttarkashi helpline no: 01374 226161
Army helpline no: 1800-180-5558 / 1800 -4190282
11. oo am: Weather, limited landing conditions hampering rescue operations
Director General of ITBP Ajay Chaddha said that there are currently ten private choppers and around 7-8 IAF choppers pressed into service. As of now, they are enough as weather and landing conditions are limited.
He also said that there was no lack of manpower for now and all rescue teams are working together, but operations will take time as only a maximum of five people can travel during a sortie.
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 20, 2013
10:10 am: Weather clears, IAF begins sorties
IBN7's Smita Sharma reports that the weather is clearing up in Uttarakhand and relief air operations have commenced again on upper the reaches to rescue stranded people.
9. 50 am: IAF choppers to make rescue attempts again
Air Commodore Rajesh Issar has said that rescue operations will resume as soon as the weather conditions at Jolly Grant airport improve. There are also 10 choppers on standby at Sarsawa.
At 6, 45am, rescue attempts were made, five aircraft were airborne but they had to return due to bad weather.
The choppers are making attempts again and hopefully the IAF should be able to push out ten craft in the first go.
Issar also said that the three main affected valleys are Haasil, Kedarnath (worst affected) and Badrinath (not grim).
The main focus for rescue operations is Kedarnath valley, where according to estimates, thousands of people are stranded. Issar also thanked the district administration for providing all necessary supplies.
In the last 24 hours, more than 500 people have been evacuated and another 500 could be evacuated today.
9. 37 am: Kedarnath area is worst affected, says IAF
Harsil sector, which includes Kedarnath, Badrinath are the worst affected areas. Kedarnath has been cleared, but people from upper areas are reaching there. Another 500 people are expected to be rescued today.
By tomorrow, all critical evacuation from Kedarnath will be completed, an IAF official said.
9. 35 am: Uttarakhand CM headed to Switzerland?
Despite the fact that rescue operations continue to be hampered by bad weather and thousands remain stranded, is Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna heading to Switzerland next week?
According to a report in the Indian Express, the Chief Minister has a trip that was planned before the flash floods in the state in which he was to visit the European nation in the company of his wife and some state officials.
Given that its an an official trip, Bahuguna's office had sought clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs.
After the floods ravaged the state, the Ministry had expected Bahuguna's office to inform them that he would cancel the trip, but as of Wednesday they had not received any word to that effect. Therefore the Ministry has gone ahead and cleared the trip.
So was this just a case of his office forgetting to inform the Ministry of External Affairs, or does Bahaguna really think that the situation is so under control that he can fly out? Or subsequently does he think that he has nothing to contribute by staying in his flood ravaged state?
9. 30 am: 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.
9. 25 am: Uttarakhand Tourism Minister chopper returns due to bad weather
Uttarakhand Tourism Minister, who was travelling by a chopper to over see rescue operations, had to return back to Dehradun following bad weather. Rescue operations by IAF have also been suspended following bad weather in the area.
9. 15 am: 100 Paratroupers at Gaurikund
the Army has sent a hundred paratroupers to Gaurikund to help rescue stranded pilgrims. Medical help is also being provided to those rescued.
The Army has issued a helpline number for stranded passengers in Uttarakhand: 18004190282
9. oo am: IAF operations suspended following bad weather
IAF rescue operations from Jolly Grant in Dehradun have been suspended for now following bad weather in Uttarakhand. There were light showers reported early this morning.
There have been no sorties since this morning.
Meanwhile, in an embarrassment to operation Rahat, IAF choppers sent in for rescue operations ran out of fuel and were stranded in Dehradun.
First person accounts of relatives looking for family members
Another relative Nikhil Patel has travelled to Dehradun from Surat, Gujarat in search of his family members. Eight of his relatives are stuck near Gaurikund while travelling towards Kedarnath - where he says there is an island like situation. He says they were stuck five days ago and they have received no help or food packets as yet.
Dhruv Dubey, a tour operator of Gayatri Tourism from Sidpur, Gujarat has said he and others travelling with him have managed to trek down from Kedarnath and have reached a little ahead of Rambara.
Initially, he was travelling with 150 people, of which 60 who are with him now are safe. Most of them are from Patan, Mehsana and Banaskantha.
Parsumran Shastri is also safe and is now close to Berkot, and Brijesh Acharya, who is close to Badrinath.
08. 10 am: IAF choppers out of fuel
In a major embarrassment to Operation Rahat, the IAF choppers deployed to airlift passengers have run out of fuel. The choppers were to assist tourists in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
08. 00 am: Water level of Yamuna recedes
The water level of Yamuna river has receded marginally overnight from 207.30 to 207.26, bringing in some relief for those living along the river bed in Delhi.
07. 45 am: Army medical batch at Dehradun
A batch of 100 Special Army medical personnel have reached Dehradun airport. They will be move to Rudraprayag and forward areas to assist in rescue operations.
07 . 30 am: Kailash Mansarovar Yatra cancelled
The government has cancelled the Kailash Manasarove Yatra after authorities declared roads unsafe for use.
Updates for 19 June end
10.00 pm: Death toll reaches 150, likely to rise
The terrible magnitude of nature's fury in Uttarakhand unfolded today as the death toll rose to 150 with fears that it may go up substantially as large parts the area remained under water while hundreds of houses and buildings lay in ruins.
Skies cleared today enabling stepping up of rescue and relief operations but the efforts were hampered by the vast destruction of the roads caused by landslides and flash floods that damaged hundreds of houses, buildings, hotels and government guest houses.
Several thousand pilgrims from across the country are still stranded in the state as reports came that the Kedarnath temple, one of the four holy dhams, was intact but the temple complex and the Rambada area around it have suffered total destruction.
6.01 pm: PM announces Rs 1000 cr relief fund for Uttarakhand
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after an aerial survey of the Kedarnath area in Uttarakhand along with Sonia Gandhi said that they saw was distressing and rescuing the stranded was of the utmost priority. He also announced a relief of Rs 1,000 crore for the state of Uttarakhand.
"Our hearts go out to persons who have lost members of their family and property. Priority for authorities is to rescue the stranded and provide aid to those who need it," said Manmohan Singh.
He said that ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh each will be provided to the kin of those who have died and Rs 50,000 each to those who have been injured. He said the Prime Minister's relief fund will also give Rs 1 lakh to people whose house have perished completely and Rs 50,000 to the people whose houses have been damaged.
Singh said, "The Centre and states will work in close co-ordination to not only rescue affected persons but also help them rebuild their lives."
5.15 pm: Burning issue is to rescue my people, says Vijay Bahuguna
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Wednesday told the press that the burning issue is to rescue his people.
Pointing out to environmentalists that it was the dams that prevented large areas from being washed away he said, "The burning issue today is how do I rescue people, how do I rehabilitate them, how do I compensate them."
Bahuguna also said that though the Kedarnath temple is safe the city is in debris.
4.52 pm: PM to meet Uttarakhand CM
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who conducted an aerial survey of flood stricken Uttarakhand along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, will meet Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna in an hour to review rescue and relief operations in the flood affected areas of the state.
The premier reached Dehradun at around 3 pm to conduct a tour of flood stricken areas.
4.40 pm: Our first priority is to save all lives, says RPN Singh
MoS Home RPN Singh on Wednesday said that the first priority of the government is to save all the lives that are in danger due to the floods in Uttarakhand, especially in an around Kedarnath.
In a retort to Sushma Swaraj's statement that thousands are stuck without help in the area, he said, "I don't want to politicise the flood situation. The Centre will help the state govt in whatever way possible."
He said, "Army, paramilitary forces doing exemplary rescue work. We will do whatever it takes to get people out of difficult situations."
He also said there is no point discussing what could have been done and all political parties should work towards it.
"State govts have told us there is no shortage of food. We are airdropping food packets," he said and added, "Many have been rescued from in and around Kedarnath, some have been airlifted. Various agencies are evacuating pilgrims."
First person account of Vikas Bajaj who's looking for news of his family
Among the many stranded in the flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand is a family of 17 from Akola district, Maharashtra. Vikas Bajaj, is desperately looking out for his family members, including elder brother Manoj Bajaj and his wife.
The last communication Vikas had with his family was on 17 June at around 1 pm. They were returning from Kedarnath and had reached Rambara, when it started raining. Since then he has had no contact with them.
Trekked back 25 kms, family in a state of trauma
Another family from Bhagalpur - the Pandeys - have safely made it back from Kedarnath. The family of four had stared their journey back early 15 June. The Pandeys have reached Dehradun after trekking back 25 kms. The family is still in a state of trauma.
3. 00 pm: PM, Sonia reach Dehradun for aerial survey
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi have reached Dehradun for an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand.
3. 15 pm: No rain in Uttarakhand for next two days
In what comes as a great sigh of relief, the Meteorological Department today announced that there will be no rain in Uttarakhand for the next two days. This comes in as a positive sign for rescue operations that are being carried out 24X7 by Army, IAF, NDRF and ITBP officials.
2. 55 pm: Authorities apprehensive of media coverage
Meanwhile, authorities in flood-hit areas seem apprehensive of allowing sorties for media personnel to Kedarnath. Officials are apprehensive that the media may exaggerate flood conditions in their reports.
Though, on the contrary, there is no media presence yet on the ground in Gaurikund, Kedarnath sector leading to further misinformation and panic.
IBN7 Associate Editor Smita Sharma reports that while the IAF is willing to take journalists up to the higher reaches, it is the DM Purushottam and DG Information Vinod Sharma who are passing the buck.
2. 45 pm: MP govt announces 5 crore relief fund for Uttarakhand
Madhya Pradesh Government has announced a Rs 5 crore relief fund for Uttarakhand. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan came to Dehradun, took stock of tourists from MP stuck here, and left, IBN7 Associate Editor Smita Sharma reports.
2. 30 pm: Mi 17 choppers may be used to drop medical, water supplies in flood-hit areas
IBN7 Associate Editor Smita Sharma, who is in Uttarakhand told Firstpost that most relief choppers are taking off from Jolly Grant Dehradun and Sarsawa airport near Saharanpur is on standby.
IAF sources have also said that Lighter ALH Helicopters could be used to take it to upper reaches, narrower valley areas.
IAF Mi 17s may also be used to take medical and water supplies to Gauchar (ITBP) post and Dharasu in Uttarkashi.
At some places where immediate evacuation is not possible because of landing problems, NDRF personnel are being dropped to provide interim relief till weather and road conditions improve.
1. 4o pm: 22 dead in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh
NDTV reports that 22 people have been killed in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh due to incessant rains and flash floods. Meanwhile, Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this evening.
1. 35 pm: Maharashtra govt to give Rs 10 crore to Uttarakhand
The Maharashtra government has decided to provide Rs 10 crore as relief fund to the Uttarakhand state government.
Maharashtra will also send a special plane to bring back stranded pilgrims from Uttarakhand.
Meanwhile, 18 choppers have been pressed into service and over 4 tonnes of relief material has been air dropped in Uttarakhand, IAF officials told CNN-IBN.
1. 15 pm: Temple staff missing, dharamshalas destroyed, says temple official
Kedarnath-Badrinath committee president has told CNN-IBN that at least 20 of its staff members are missing in the floods. "The temple premises has not been destroyed.. 20 of our staff are missing."
He further said that Dharamshalas around the temple have been destroyed by the floods.
Update #Floodrelief in UP. Army persons deployed in Saharanpur, Bijnour, Pilibhit & Muzaffarnagar
— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) June 19, 2013
12. 50 pm: Flood situation is a national disaster, says Rajnath
BJP President Rajnath Singh said the flood situation in Uttarakhand is a national disaster.
"Central and state governments must make all efforts to rescue people and provide immediate assistance," he said.
Uttarkashi: 01374-226126, 226161
The ITBP has also established helpline and control room for information on Uttrakhand: 011-24362892 and 9968383478.
12. 15 pm: Air evacuation currently on, says IG, NDRF
Sandeep Rathore, IG, NDRF said 390 people were rescued last night and air evacuation is currently being carried out. "Road conditions are bad but they are being repaired and we will be able to rescue more people today," he said.
Widespread destruction caused due to floods in Barkot,Uttarakhand in the Yamunotri Valley pic.twitter.com/V8OpawPuom
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 19, 2013
11. 40 am: PM directs Food Minister to supply food to flood hit areas
The Congress Core Group meeting today discussed the Uttarakhand flood situation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed Food Minister KV Thomas to ensure that food supplies reach those affected.
11. 34 am: Aid being sent to flood affected areas: Shinde
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said rescue aid is being sent to the flood affected areas and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi will tour the affected areas at 2 pm this afternoon.
"There are 14 NDRF teams at work and over 4000 people have been rescued by the Army and 62, 000 are still stranded. Food packets and blankets have been sent, local doctors have been arranged at the areas... we are also setting up a Control center in Badrinath," Shinde said.
11. 23 am: Situation in Uttarakhand better today: Chidambaram
Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that the flood situation in Uttarakhand was better today.
"Today's Congress Core group meeting was confined only to flood situation in Uttarakhand, situation in Uttarakhand is better than yesterday," he said.
11. 15 am: 4,000 rescued from Govind Ghat, says ITBP
"Have rescued 4,000 people from Govind Ghat are also providing shelter and food," said DG of ITBP Ajay Chadha, on rescue operations in Uttarakhand.
11. oo am: This is Himalayan Tsunami, need more manpower
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna admitted there was lack of manpower to conduct rescue operations and urged the Centre to send in adequate forces.
"I would call this natural disaster the Himalayan Tsunami. We are deploying as many choppers as we can, but their use is limited by the size of the valley. Furthermore once we airlift people to a certain point it becomes a challenge to get them out of there as well, since all roads are blocked."
10. 30 am: 3,000 Sikh pigrims rescued from Hemkund Sahib
In Badrinath, around 8,000 pilgrims are still stuck due to road blocks. Over 3,000 Sikh pilgrims have been rescued from Hemkund Sahib and are now taking shelter at the Army relief camp in Joshimath. Communication lines at Badrinath are down.
Uttarakhand Helpline numbers: 0135-2710334, 2710335, 2710233
10. 00 am: Rescue operations at Kedarnath may end by afternoon
Rescue operations at Kedarnath may be completed by this afternoon, but the bigger task is getting pilgrims out of the area as many roads have been blocked.
We should be able to complete rescue operations in Kedarnath by this afternoon, but the main roads are blocked so sending pilgrims home will be a great challenge.." Executive Director, DMMC Piyush Rautela told CNN-IBN.
9.28 am: PM, Sonia to visit Uttarakhand
Prie Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi are likely to conduct an aerial survey of Uttarakhand this afternoon, CNN-IBN reported. The death toll in the state is at around 130, but this number is expected to rise further.
Over 8,000 pilgrims are stuck in Badrinath in the state, the latest reports said. Rescue operations are underway, but bad weather is hampering work. State police and all police stations in affected areas are involved in rescue operations along with the NDRF, ITBP and Army personnel. 800 tourists have been rescued and are at Kedarnath Phata while 125 people are rescued from Guptkashi in Rudraprayag distance
Meanwhile in other parts of North India, roads continue to be blocked and rivers are flowing well above the danger mark.
9.14 am: Rescue officials hope to complete Kedarnath rescue operations by noon
The Uttarakhand Disaster Management executive has said that the organisation hopes to finish all rescue work in Kedarnath by this afternoon. Speaking to CNN-IBN, the director said that as many as 14 choppers would be utlised in Ramban and Kedarnath.
Rains have ceased in the state, but there is still ever present danger from landslides, officials said.
8. oo am: Yamuna rises above danger mark, set to cross 207 metres today
The Water level in the Yamuna is set to rise over 207 metres - the highest the river has touched in 35 years.
The Yamuna crossed the danger mark in Delhi on Tuesday and the water level is expected to rise further today when the water from the Hathnikund barrage reaches the capital.
Over 1,500 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas in east Delhi like Usmanpur, Yamuna Bazar, Bhajanpura and Shastri Park and relief camps have been set up for their shelter.
7. 15 am: Haryana announces Rs 10 cr relief for Uttarakhand
Haryana government on Tuesday announced Rs 10 crore for relief work in Uttarakhand hit by heavy rains and landslides.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda talked to his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna and said that the relief amount would be given to the state tomorrow, an official spokesman said.