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Uttarakhand Live: Badrinath evacuated but UN estimates 11,000 missing

1.08 pm: 11,000 people still missing, says UN

A total of 1,350 people have been evacuated from Badrinath while over 3,500 remain untraced in flood-hit Uttarakhand even as a UN agency estimated that the number of missing could be over 11,000.

"According to data available till Sunday, 1,350 have been evacuated from Badrinath- 800 by air and 550 by road. But there are some locals too like shopkeepers and ashram dwellers who also are being evacuated," NDMA vice chairman M Shashidhar Reddy told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.

The number of dead stands at 580 while the NDRF has rescued 8,634 people from Kedarnath taking the overall evacuation to 1,08,253 people, he said.

"According to the quantum of FIRs filed, the number of missing stands at 3,500-3,700 but a report prepared by a UN agency along with some NGO pegs the figure in excess of 11,000," Reddy said.

He said that the maximum deaths have occurred in the Kedarnath and Rambada areas while the number of injured registered so far has risen to is 3,119 compared to the figures of 436 on Saturday.

(PTI)

12:25 pm: All pilgrims evacuated from Badrinath

Rescue of pilgrims stranded in Badrinath came to an end today with about 150 of them being safely evacuated even as the administration struggled with the task of supplying relief to remote parts of Uttarakhand where foodgrain shortage has been reported in 170 villages.

On the 17th day of the calamity, the task of extricating bodies from the debris and their disposal in Kedarnath also remained a major headache for the administration with no cremation having taken place there over the past two days.

The number of bodies cremated there so far is still pegged at 36. (PTI)

10:40 am: Uttarakhand Chief Minister sees no reason to resign

He may be facing calls to resign, but Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna sees no reason why he should given that he's still handling relief efforts in the state and the scale of the tragedy.

In an exclusive interview with CNN-IBN‘s Rajdeep Sardesai, the Uttarakhand Chief Minister brushed aside criticism from other leaders like the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj who had said he should resign over the handling of rescue efforts.

“I think other states have faced such calamities and I dont think such a demand was made by any political leader of this country,” Bahuguna said, adding that the BJP leader might not have been aware of the scale of rescue operations carried out.

He denied allegations that he had favoured Congress leader Rahul Gandhi when he visited Uttarakhand and said that there wasn't preferential treatment for any of the political leaders.

“When these helipads were being used for evacuation we did not allow anyone to use it, including the Home Minister…When Rahul Gandhi drove in then he took a sortie, the entire rescue operation in Kedarnath was over and it was not hampered in any way,” Bahuguna said.

Read more here

 

7.57 am: Heavy rains to hit Uttarakhand again this week

The met department has issued a warning again, predicting that heavy rains are likely to hit Uttarakhand towards the end of this week. The rains might be similar to the rainfall on June 16 in magnitude. According to a Times of India report:

New Delhi's regional meteorological centre has predicted that rain, ranging from 70-130mm a day, will hit parts of Uttarakhand from July 4-7. While this volume is lower than the over 300mm that fell on June 16-17, it is expected to add to the damage and hamper relief activities.

Meanwhile, ISRO declared that they have done their best in helping the rescue operations in Uttarakhand.

Defending its role in the rescue operations in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, ISRO today said the agency had played its role in the largest rescue operations in the country, saving thousands of lives.

"We did our role in the rescue operations by providing imagery and equipment," ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan told reporters here soon after the space agency launched India's first dedicated navigation satellite IRNSS-1A on board the PSLV-C22, which blasted off at 11.41 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here last night.

Replying to a query on the the space agency's assistance during the relief operations, he said, "We have been taking and providing imagery of the affected areas as early as June 17 to the concerned agencies."

"We gave 12 satellite phones and other communication equipment for the use of the personnel, engaged in the relief operations. Over 1,000 calls have been made using them," he said.

ISRO was and still is in touch with the Uttarakhand government, Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Authority, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)

End of updates from 1 July

9.04 pm: More than 800 from UP still missing

A total of 817 people from Uttar Pradesh, who went to Uttarakhand before flash floods lashed the hill state, are reportedly still missing.

"According to the reports collected from all districts of the state, 817 people who had gone there have not yet returned nor contacted their people back home" said Relief Commissioner, Venkateshwarlu.

The exact number of people who had gone there is being collected, he said, adding the list of the missing persons is constantly being updated on the basis of the complaints being lodged by the relatives and friends of the missing persons.

According to the government, 32 bodies have been recovered so far from the rivers flowing into UP which are believed to have floated down from the hill state.

"A cell has also been set up in the home department for collecting and streamlining the information about the missing people in Uttarakhand so as to avoid repetition and leaving out of any names," said UP Home Secretary, Kamal Saxena.

According to home department, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued guidelines pertaining to the disposal of the dead bodies including 100 per cent photography and keeping them in body bags.

The NDMA has directed for keeping the bodies as long as possible and conducting DNA tests, sources said, adding names of the labs for conducting these tests have also been suggested.

The last rites of the unclaimed bodies, if required, shall be conducted with full respect and proper manner and its full expense would be borne by the state government, according to the NDMA.

"Government order sanctioning Rs 3,500 for the disposal of each body has already been issue," said Saxena.

Giving details of the UP government's role in the relief and rescue operations, Saxena said camps have been set up at Jollygrant, Haridwar, Dehradun among others and 450 Roadways buses were ferrying people free to their destinations.

"Some 1.25 lakh people have already been ferried by the state roadways buses", he said, adding that on the request of the Uttarakhand government, officers and employees have also been made available besides a team of doctors.

PTI

5.14 pm: BJP slams 'National disaster' Congress, says 'Rambo' better than 'Scambo'

The BJP which has been unrelenting in its criticism of the way the Uttarakhand crisis was handled, has called the Congress a 'National disaster'.

"The Central Government was only into hampering the relief work. Congress party is itself a national disaster," BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, according to ANI. Look at the credibility of this Government, not even one country came forward to extend help," he added.

Naqvi's comments were followed by a few choice comments by spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi who slammed the Congress mockery of Modi as a 'Rambo', saying it was better to be a 'Rambo' than a 'Dumbo' or a 'Scambo'.

"Chidambaram, other netas of Congress have Modi phobia. They need psychoanalysis", she added.

All this of course, comes on the back of the headline grabbing Twitter exchange between Sushma Swaraj and Manish Tewari. You can read more on that here.

4:45 pm: Over 600 people remain stranded

Over 200 pilgrims and locals were today rescued from flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand where another 680 were still stranded even as Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna announced that a statutory body will be set up to oversee relief and rehabilitation work.

Amidst conflicting reports on the number of those killed in the tragedy, the Chief Minister refused to speculate on the casualty figure.

"There is no room for speculation on the casualty figure. It is a massive tragedy but as per my information, the number of visible bodies is 500 to 600.Bodies are lying under the debris and around 3000 are missing," he told reporters.

Despite bad weather at places including Dehradun, chopper operations began this morning in Chamoli district to evacuate about 300 pilgrims and 600 locals from Badrinath shrine to Joshimath from where they will be brought further down by
road. PTI

4:00 pm: Ajay Maken says political parties shouldn't fight over Uttarakhand floods

Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken has attempted to lay the controversy surrounding the tweets by colleague Manish Tewari to rest by completely ignoring the matter and  focussing only on rescue efforts. And also saying that the country should rise above politics.

We must rise above politics in tragedies like Uttarakhand, he said.

"The country has never seen such a huge evacuation like in the Uttarakhand floods," Maken told a press conference.

We salute the army men who have carried out evacuation in Uttarakhand, he said.

The former minister also said that the government would seek a relief package from the World Bank to assist in relief measures for flood affected persons.

3.42 pm: Had never seen such destruction, says NDRF team

Members of the National Disaster Response Force have spoken out about their experiences, saying that the death and destruction they saw was unparalleled.

"There was not even a single structure that was standing. There were many bodies. It was a ghost town. The stench of the bodies was so bad that our men found it difficult to go ahead. It was with great difficulty that we walked ahead", said Inspector Gopal Singh Meena who was among the first to be air dropped in to Kedarnath.

"There were wailing women and children in hysterical condition. They were there without food and water. They were totally in panic. They were crying for help. We faced a lot of problems as we had no way to reach them. We then made ropeways and then many of our men carried them on their backs. Our first priority was to reach the women, children and the old," Meena added.

He said their next stop was Gaurikund, the trekking base of Kedarnath shrine and Rambada, a prominent village, which used to serve as a resting place for the devotees going to the Kedarnath temple

"The scene in Gaurikund was even more horrific. We saved a sadhu who was stuck in one corner of the gushing water. Here again people had taken shelter in jungles. Many just couldn't walk. Their feet were swollen. They were totally famished and in urgent need of food and water," added Meena, whose team members were the ones who rescued and evacuated hundreds of people stuck in the entire stretch of Kedarnath valley.

"I have been to many places, including Japan (tsunami of 2011). But I have not seen such a scene. It was horrifying. We felt helpless before the force of nature. I cannot easily forget what I saw there. It will take time," he said.

2.41 pm: Meanwhile Ambika Soni takes the Twitter fight offline as well

Congress general secretary Ambika Soni has added her two cents into a Twitter fight that has been raging between BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari.

"It's sad that at such a time the leader of the Opposition is giving statements like the Uttarakhand govt should be dissolved", she said in reference to a tweet by Swaraj, saying that the Uttarakhand government needed to step down for its poor handling of the crisis. We have never discriminated while providing relief and we never will", she said.

No word on Twitter from Swaraj as yet who was last seen responding to Tewari via a barrage of tweets. However responding to her, the Minister tweeted, "If LOP follows the advise of HM how come it does not apply to the BJP President & Poll panel chief ? Different strokes for different folks!"

2.37 pm: Funding for infrastructure from PM's fund, says Ramesh

Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has said that the repair of critical infrastructure like roads and bridges will be provided for through the Prime Minister's fund. "World Bank and ADB will also be providing funds and the new planning body will help allocate funds", he said in a joint press briefing with Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna.

2.25 pm: Bahuguna announces relief measures, new body for development

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna outlining relief measures for the inhabitants of the flood ravaged state, said that affected people would receive subsidies, free rations and a host of other relief measures to help them get back on their feet.

Bahuguna said that villages completely cut off due to roads being washed away would receive free rations for a month and said that power bills have also been waived for affected families. In addition to this, he said people who have taken loans given by state banks won't have to pay interest for a year.

The Uttarakhand Chief Minister also announced that a new body has been created for the revival of the state. The body called the  Uttarakhand rehabilitation and reconstruction authority will be chaired by the Chief Minister and decide on planning, development of the state. "Permission will not be given for building along river banks", he said.

11:00 am: Hundreds still stranded in Badrinath, 3,000 people missing due to floods

Last ditch efforts were today on to evacuate about 900 people from Badrinath amid overcast conditions at some places in Uttarakhand where authorities
were grappling with the task of extricating bodies from under tonnes of debris lying in Kedarghati and their cremation.

Despite bad weather at places including Dehradun, chopper operations began this morning in Chamoli district to evacuate about 300 pilgrims and 600 locals from Badrinath shrine to Joshimath from where they will be brought further down by road.

According to latest official figures, approximately 3000 persons have been reported missing after the tragedy.

The state government has sent a 200-member team of medical experts, trained police personnel and support staff from the municipal corporation to the Valley to perform the onerous task of extricating the bodies and their ritual cremation.

Some of the medical experts, who had been sent to Kedarnath to take the DNA samples of the bodies there, have returned after falling sick. (PTI)

10:15 am: Swaraj continues to give Tewari a earful on Twitter

Sushma Swaraj's initial tweets may have seemed a little mild and so the BJP leader has now gone on the offensive against the Information and Broadcasting Minister. Arun Jaitley hasn't responded in any way to the matter yet.

9:30 am: Congress-BJP get into a battle of words on Twitter over rescue efforts

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari may have started the war of words on Twitter over the rescue efforts in Uttarakhand by criticising BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley for not visiting the site of the calamity:

"H'onble LOP's have mindspace to critique govt proposals on CBI autonomy that are yet to be placed before SC but no time to visit Uttrakhand," Tewari tweeted this morning

"Did anyone see LOP's in both houses express sympathy/visit disaster hit Uttrakhand This from a party that criticizes visits of. Cong leaders," he tweeted.

BJP's Sushma Swaraj wasn't about to back down, and lashed back not at the minister, but at the Uttarakhand government for its failure in handling rescue efforts. She also criticised Delhi government, but it isn't clear for what.

Congress' Digvijay Singh has also rushed to his colleagues defence on Twitter asking everyone to stop the blame game over the issue.

9:15 am: Kedarnath-Badrinath pilgrimage can't be stopped, says trust chief 

The state government may believe that the Kedarnath and Badrinath pilgrimages can't be held for another three years, but the head of the trust that manages says that it will be unwise to keep the pilgrims away from the pilgrimage.

"If the Badrinath road opens, by September-October there will be a huge influx of pilgrims. They will increase 10 fold,"  BD Singh, head of Badrinth-Kedarnath Mandir Samiti, told CNN-IBN.

"37 percent of Uttarakhand's revenue depends upon pilgrims. The government needs to make arrangements like helicopter facilities to make sure that the livelihood of people dependent on pilgrims is not affected," he said.

7.30 am: Will never know how many casualties there were, says Bahuguna

The exact number of people dead or washed away may never be known, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said as estimates of casualties in the worst natural disaster in the state run from several hundreds to several thousands.

“We will never know the exact number of those dead and the number of people who have been buried or washed away,” he told PTI in an interview.

State Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal had stated on Saturday that the number of those killed could breach the 10,000 mark but the Chief Minister had said the figure was incorrect.

7.20 am: State government requests Centre for 100 tonnes of bleaching powder to dispose of dead animals

The Uttarakhand government has requested the central government for 100 tonnes of bleaching powder to help dispose of the carcasses of animals killed in the recent floods, a health ministry official said here Sunday.

Director General of Health Services Jagdish Prasad told IANS that the request was made at a high-level meeting with Uttarakhand officials attended by union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.

A large number of mules and horses, used to ferry pilgrims to the holy shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath, perished in the Uttarakhand flash floods together with hundreds of pilgrims and visitors.

End of updates on June 30

3. 50 pm: 3,000 people missing in Uttarakhand, says Bahuguna

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna put the number of people missing in the flash floods in the state at 3,000.

"After taking into consideration all the missing-person reports lodged in this state and elsewhere, I have been told that the number of those missing is around 3,000," Bahuguna told reporters here.

He said instructions have been given that kin of all missing people should report the matter to the authorities.

"We will give the compensation amount to the next of kin of the missing if they give us an affidavit," the chief minister said.

The incessant and intense rains that hit Uttarakhand over three days from June 14 triggered flash floods and landslides, leading to hundreds of deaths, while hundreds more are missing. Over 100,000 people have been evacuated so far from the affected areas. (IANS)

3. 18 pm: Bahuguna turns down Modi’s offer to reconstruct Kedarnath

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna turned down offers from his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi and others for reconstruction of the Kedarnath temple, saying it will be done by his government and the temple committee.

However, he said anyone was welcome to contribute funds for the reconstruction of the 8th century shrine that withstood the ravage of the cloudbursts and floods that swept away its neighbourhood and much of the town.

“The construction of temple, I am very firm, and I have made it clear that it will be constructed by the state government and the temple committee. Anybody who is coming forward to make donation is most welcome,” he said.

12.55pm: Snowfall impedes cremation at Badrinath

With nearly 500 people still stranded in Badrinath, weather has started playing spoilsport again. According to a report on Hindustan Times, the cremation of the dead in Badrinath have taken a hit following heavy snowfall. According to the report, only 30 bodies could be cremated as snowfall and fog made it impossible to get the required supply of firewood into Badrinath. Approximately 200 bodies are still buried in the debris.

Hindustan Times reports:

The team of doctors assigned with the task of DNA sampling from the bodies said that many bodies had deteriorated completely and there were chances of disease spread if the cremation didn’t begin at the earliest.

DIG Sanjay Gunjyal, who had been supervising the cremation, said that transporting firewood through choppers was risky affair in the bad weather.

12.51 pm: "10,000 dead is a rough estimate. There are several bodies lying around," says Uttarakhand Health Minister

Uttarakhand Health Minister Surinder Singh Negi Sunday did not discount the state assembly speaker's claim that 10,000 people have perished in the rain-flood tragedy, saying it was an "estimate" as many bodies are still buried under mounds of debris in the Kedarnath valley area.

Speaking to IANS, the minister said the estimates are based on what evacuated people have recounted to the rescue teams and to government officials.

"He (state assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal) has given an estimated figure. At the moment, it is an estimate. It can go down, or it could go up. It is too early to give the exact number of deaths in the tragedy that has completely devastated the state," Negi told IANS.

Kunjwal had caused a flutter Saturday with his claim of the death toll having crossed 10,000.

Kunjwal told reporters that during his earlier tour of the flood-devastated areas of the state he had put the death toll at 5,000-6,000. "But after hearing accounts of the people coming down from the mountains and that of people calling me up and seeing the piles of bodies, I feel the toll could be well over 10,000."

But union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde clarified that the toll was 900 according to the information with him. He added that the complete figure on the deaths was not out yet and it would take some days for that.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has termed Kunjwal's claim as "inaccurate".

Negi said the worst affected area is the Kedarnath Valley and where bodies are still lying around.

"We have so far cleared the 14-km pedestrian route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath. But there are many bodies that are still buried under mounds and mounds of debris. These bodies are trapped under 5-10 feet of debris. We need to clear them. Once we clear them, we will be in a position to give the (exact) toll figure," he said.

The health minister also said that during the recent visit of the union home minister the state government had requested for earth excavating machines.

"It is not possible to manually dig out the bodies. We have asked for these machines from the central government. The machines can be air-dropped, and with their help we would be able to dig out the bodies in the Kedarnath valley," he added.

"Many people who have been rescued from Kedarnath valley have recounted horror stories. We fear that many died in this stretch. But at the moment we cannot give the exact number. It is just an estimate. The 10,000 toll can go up or it can go down too," he reiterated.

The minister also said that it will take them time to give the exact toll figure.

"We will get an exact number after counting the bodies and by adding the missing persons reports filed by the people whose near and dear ones are untraceable. We are taking the DNA of each body," he said.

Negi said there is a fear that the decomposing bodies in the Kedarnath valley could lead to an epidemic.

"Our first priority is to dig out the bodies, and the second is to restore the entire route of the Kedarnath valley. The third is to see that there is no outbreak of epidemic. We are monitoring the situation. So far, there is no fear," Negi said.

Kedarnath, one of the revered pilgrimage sites for millions of Hindus, is situated at an altitude of 3,586 mt in the lap of the majestic mountain peaks and near the head of river Mandakini. It can be reached after a steep 14-km-long trek.

The incessant and intense rains that hit Uttarakhand over three days from June 14 triggered flash floods and landslides, leading to hundreds of deaths, while hundreds more are missing.

Over 100,000 people have been evacuated so far.

Negi also said that 300-400 people are still stranded in Badrinath and waiting to be rescued. The Indian Air Force evacuated over 800 people Saturday.

IANS

11.45 am: Government denies ignoring warnings

The ministry of disaster management of the Uttarakhand government has said that there was no question of ignoring warnings, since they had not received them in the first place. Though the met department had gone on record saying several warnings were issued, the department denied receiving any such advisory. "No warnings were issued to us," Times Now quoted a government official as saying.

8.25 am: Uttarakhand government didn't pay heed to met department warnings?

While similar, but unconfirmed theories had been making the rounds, the met department has now announced that the government had ignored its warnings about the possibility of severely inclement weather. According to a report on The Times of India, the met department has said that they had issued a series of advisories on 14, 15, 16 June predicting the possibility of 'heavy rains' which might lead to a disaster-like situation. In fact, the Met officials have said that they had even asked these government agencies to move people to 'safer places' and postpone the Char Dham yatra,

The warnings indicated that Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamnotri and Joshimath regions were in danger of a natural catastrophe. Incidentally, when disaster struck, these were the very regions which took the worst hit and saw the most number of casualties. TOI reports:

A special advisory related to the ‘Char Dham’ pilgrimage had also been issued by the Met department on June 15, which had specifically predicted “heavy to very heavy rains” for June 16 and June 17 and had clearly mentioned the danger— “Warning—Char Dham yatris are advised to postpone yatra by four days”.

However, Uttarakhand chief secretary Subhas Kumar debunked the warning theories by saying that similar warnings are issued by the met department every year and they are never an indication of the intensity of the problem at hand.

Rescue operations at Uttarakhand. AFP.

Rescue operations at Uttarakhand. AFP.

End of updates from June 29

8.45pm: IAF completes evacuation from Harsil

New Delhi: Entering the last phase of relief operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand, the Indian Air Force today said it has completed the evacuation of stranded pilgrims in Harsil using 26 of its aircraft there.

"The IAF airlifted the last 12 pilgrims from Harsil. Harsil is completely evacuated," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Gerard Galway said in New Delhi.

He said 842 pilgrims were airlifted by the force from Badrinath sector and the IAF will continue its operations in the sector for two more days.

Over 2,500 pilgrims were stranded in Harsil and Badrinath till yesterday and they are being evacuated by the Army and the IAF using both aerial and land routes.

The IAF has deployed a total of 26 aircraft for the operations.

The IAF has been involved in the operations since 17 June and has flown around 1,800 sorties airlifting more than 15,000 people in the process.

The Army is also continuing its efforts there and had deployed around 8,000 troops along with over 4,000 personnel under the Border Roads Organisation.

The Army had also deployed 13 of its choppers in the relief missions and has evacuated over 30,000 people from there.

PTI

8.30pm: Death toll around 900, says Shinde

Mumbai: The death toll in flash floods and landslides that ravaged Uttarakhand is around 900 so far, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in Mumbai today.

"So far, 1.05 lakh persons have been rescued," Shinde said.

"So far, 52 bodies have been cremated. We will be carrying out combing operations in the next two to four days with the help of military and paramilitary forces," he said.

The weather at present was not good, the minister who was in Mumbai on a personal visit, said.

The Centre would extend all possible help to Uttarakhand, Shinde said.

PTI

6.30pm IAF rescues 590 on Saturday

According to CNN-IBN, the Indian Air Force today rescued 590 pilgrims from Badrinath using 26 choppers. The force has also started de-induction of aircraft from the mission as rescue operations start to wind up.

5.30pm Death toll may cross 10,000, says Uttarakhand Speaker

Almora: The number of people killed in cloudbursts and flash floods in Uttarakhand recently may cross 10,000 mark, state Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal said today.

"Earlier when I returned from a tour of Garhwal region I believed the casualty figure could be 4000 to 5000. But now as per my information and bodies being seen by the people, I can say the figure can cross the 10,000 mark," Kunjwal told told reporters in Almora.

Though refusing to quantify casualties even 14 days after the tragedy, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has been saying it is feared over 1,000 people might have been killed in the natural calamity.

According to him, the exact number of people killed will be known only after the removal of debris.

Kunjwal said arrangements should be made immediately by the government to dispose of the bodies in view of the threat of an epidemic.

PTI

3:00 pm  Rescue operations on, 200 evacuated from Badrinath

After an initial delay due to unfavourable weather conditions, rescue work in Badrinath area of flood-hit Uttarakhand resumed today, and nearly 200 pilgrims have so far been evacuated from the shrine.

The operation, which is in its last leg and focuses largely on Badrinath, where nearly 1,400 people were reported to be stuck, is likely to be completed by this evening if the weather permits

Helicopters started flying sorties to evacuate the pilgrims from the area.

Efforts are also being made on war-footing to ensure supply of essential relief material to over 600 villages in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, which are cut off after the floods. 2,379 metric tonnes of wheat and 2,875 metric tonnes of rice has so far been dispatched to these villages. The frequently changing weather is hampering work as the relief material can be supplied only by air.  However, all steps are being taken to ensure enough supply of foodgrains, kerosene and LPG to flood-hit villages.

2:00 pm  No flood threat, rise in water level due to melting of glaciers: MeT

The MeT department has sent a word of assurance, and said the rise in water level is mainly due to melting of glaciers with the sun showing up, and there is no flood threat.  Uttarakhand MeT department Director Anand Sharma said the snow in upper reaches was melting with the sun coming out, and this was increasing water level in rivers.

Rains halt rescue operations in Kedarnath

1:00 pm: Doordarshan is reporting that rains have once again halted rescue operations in Kedarnath. Adding to it, the water level in Bhagirathi river is rising continuously, because of which as many as 70 families residing along the river banks had to be taken to safer places.

Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who is scheduled to undertake a tour of Uttarkashi, could not go and is still in Dehradun waiting for the weather to clear.

The rescue operations are coming to an end and the focus is now on around 1,400 pilgrims reported to be stranded in Badrinath. Choppers have been flown to the Himalayan shrine to evacuate the remaining pilgrims.

With fewer pilgrims stranded in Badrinath now, the focus is on evacuating them as early as possible and supplying relief material to the affected villages in the worst-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, officials told PTI.

Weather improves in Joshimath, rescue ops start

11: 22 am A team of experts from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will visit the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand to assess the quantum of damage caused by the flood fury and restoration required for the shrine.

A team of five experts from Dehradun and Delhi will be the part of the exercise for the revered temple which bore the brunt of floods and landslides triggered by the deluge in the hill state on June 16.The state government had sought help from the ASI to assess the damage caused to the shrine. Efforts are on to drop the team by air by tomorrow, sources said.

As of now, Kedarnath temple is not a protected site under the ASI. The team is expected to suggest restoration exercise needed for the temple and the surrounding areas, a senior official told PTI.

10:23 am Weather  improves in Joshimath, rescue ops start

Weather conditions in Joshimath improved on Saturday morning, prompting chopper rescue operations to start and the government hopes to complete all evacuations by the end of the day. But the main challenge now is the evacuation of those 2000 people who are still stranded in the upper reaches of the state.

Joshimath is a city and a municipal board in Chamoli District in Uttarakhand.

Rescue ops at final stage but 2,000 people  still stranded

8:30 am Rescue operations in Uttarakhand have reached the last leg but 2000 people  are still stranded in the upper reaches of the state.The government hopes to finish the evacuation process by the end of the day.  The defence forces have deployed around 50 helicopters and over 8,000 troops in flood-hit Uttarakhand.

According to CNN IBN, pilgrims in Badrinath are  being rescued by a newly constructed foot track in Govindghat valley. Meanwhile, the Jindal Group has sent  three helicopters for rescue operations in Joshimath but the weather continues to remain an obstacle.  The Harshil sector, on the other hand, has been  totally evacuated.

"The road from Joshimath to Govindghat has also been restored and pilgrims are being evacuated on foot. In Kedarnath, mass cremation of bodies is still continuing," the CNN IBN report said.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was on a second visit to Dehradun since the disaster struck the state, said all out efforts will be made in the multi-agency operations to locate those who are still trapped in the debris and the missing.

However, food supplies are running out in several villages that are completely cut off.

Authorities are also concerned  about the rising levels of the Bhagirathi river.

State government officials said that with the weather improving, 17 helicopters took off to rescue an estimated 1,237 people stuck at different places in the hill state, with the Harshil sector totally cleared of pilgrims. About 3,000 people are still reported missing, they said.

The focus now is on Badrinath Dham area, where majority of the pilgrims are stranded.

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