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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dehradun: The defence and paramilitary personnel on Tuesday concluded the search and rescue operation in Kedarnath, which was most severely hit by the landslides and incessant floods last week, which killed several hundred people across the state of Uttarakhand. 

The search and rescue teams are wrapping up their mission since no more survivors have been found in the jungles around Kedarnath. 

"No survivors remain. They have all been brought out," Ravinath Raman, nodal officer of rescue operations in Rudraprayag district said in Guptkashi. 

In Son Prayag, 25-km from Guptakashi, there were only a handful of NDRF personnel present in the morning. The rest had all returned to Guptkashi by yesterday evening. 

"Our teams were also in Rambada, Gaurikund and Kedarnath, but they would have returned by nightfall," an NDRF official said. 

"Army and paramilitary personnel have minutely combed the jungles in this area. There are no more people trapped here. The survivors have all been moved," he added. 

Son Prayag is a landscape of rock and boulders now, with only a strip of water flowing through. The entire river bed at the confluence of the Son and Mandakini, where once houses, hotels and shops stood, is now a rocky expanse. 

Some NDRF personnel had their faces covered with masks; every fresh breeze carried the smell of decomposing corpses. 

Met warns of more rains 

The Met department has warned of more rains over the next 24 hours in Uttarkashi, Chamoli and Dehradun. 

"We're expecting rains across the state. Heavy rains are possible in Uttarkashi and Chamoli and rescue operations will be affected. Rains across the state are expected on Wednesday too,” a Met department official was quoted as saying.. 

Bad weather conditions hampered the rescue operations in parts of Uttarakhand, where nearly 9,000 people are still stranded and need help. 

At least three people were killed due to cloudburst in Tehri’s Deyprayag area. The incident occurred at around 6.30 am in which several houses were damaged and many others were injured.

The Army, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and various other agencies, which suspended the rescue operation yesterday due to inclement weather, will try to reach out to those who still need help. 

Navy's elite Marine Commandos have been dispatched to Rudraprayag to help in search and rescue operations. 

Twelve naval divers are also heading to Rishikesh to look for bodies. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been deployed to retrieve bodies from inaccessible areas.

Most of the tourists stranded in the Sangla valley, Pooh and Nako area of the Kinnaur district were rescued by the security forces and taken to safer places. However, there are still over 9,000 people stranded across the state. 

Around 430 people were airlifted from the Harsil-Gangotri axis area. IAF sorties were suspended but foot-evacuations of those stranded continued. 

With the rains hitting much of the air operations, soldiers took to rescuing the stranded men, women and children by foot in a coordinated operation involving the state and central authorities. 

Fresh landslides occurred on the key road linking Rishikesh and Rudraprayag, hitting rescue efforts. But the route ahead to Joshimath was open. 

Monday's inclement weather forced the Army to continue rescue operations on the route from Badrinath to Joshimath and from Harsil to Uttarkashi. 

In Badrinath, 281 people were moved by land late Sunday after the construction of a Burma bridge across the swollen Alaknanda. The arMy set up a heli bridge at Lam Bagar in addition to a foot bridge.

Besides, two Army and three civil helicopters ferried people from Badrinath to other areas. Eight hundred were moved towards Joshimath, both by air and on foot. 

In Uttarkashi, MI-17 helicopters made 16 sorties to take out 402 people from Harsil. Another 683 people reached Uttarkashi by foot. 

Knowing that food is in short supply, the Army has stocked food, water and medicines at Sukhi and Gagnani. Food was distributed at Govindghat and Joshimath. 

On Monday, rains battered many areas including Dehradun, Chamoli and Paudi where relief operations have been halted. 

The rains have cut off communication to Tilwada and Gaurikund, where more than 500 people are stuck. Heavy rains this morning lashed Guptkashi, Harsil and Badrinath - places where thousands are still stranded. Water levels have again risen in the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. 

With Agency inputs

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