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Rain fury kills 130; over 70,000 pilgrims stranded

Dehradun/Shimla/Mangalore, June 18, 2013, DHNS & Agencies:

Kedarnath shrine submerged ; 500 people reported missing; rescue work on

A view of a submerged bridge over the Ganga in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, on Tuesday following incessant rains. PTI

The famous Kedarnath shrine in Uttarkhand was submerged in mud and slush, even as 50 people died there in the unprecedented flash floods on Tuesday. The calamity claimed over 130 lives in Uttarkhand and Himachal Pradesh and left over 70,000 pilgrims to Himalayan shrines stranded.

The shrine, one of the four holy “dhams,” in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, bore the brunt of torrential rain. About 500 people, including several pilgrims, are said to be missing.

Kukhimath Sub-Divisional Magistrate Rakesh Tewari told reporters after his return from Kedarnarth that 50 bodies were lying in areas adjacent to the shine.
“We are right now concentrating on rescuing those who are alive,” he said. The toll may rise significantly once water recedes and relief teams access the affected areas.

A portion of the Kedarnath temple compound was washed away but authorities said no damage was done to the structure. The Ram Bada area, a busy spot near the temple, has been completely submerged.

Army Central Command officials said nearly 6,000 to 8,000 people are stranded in Kedarnath, 2,500 in Hemkund Sahib and around 8,000 in Badrinath.

Flash floods, cloudbursts and landslips have so far claimed 131 lives in northern India. Thousands have been displaced in Uttar Pradesh where several rivers are in spate.
The toll in Uttarakhand has reached 102. Rudraprayag district was the worst hit with 20 people dead and 73 buildings, including 40 hotels, along the banks of the Alaknanda swept away in the swirling waters of the river.

A total of 71,440 pilgrims bound for the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are stranded in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts in Uttarakhand with the famous “char dham yatra” being suspended due to massive landslides and damage to the road network.

Meanwhile, with a slight let-up in the rain on Tuesday, rescue efforts have been intensified in the affected areas. More than a dozen helicopters have been deployed in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for relief and rescue operations.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh said food, medicines and blankets were airdropped in the remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde spoke to chief ministers of the two states.

“We have provided seven helicopters to Uttarakhand. The state government has also hired four private helicopters. We are providing helicopters to Himachal Pradesh. Hopefully, all stranded people will be evacuated soon,” Singh said in New Delhi.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was stranded in Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours due to landslides, was rescued on Tuesday morning by a helicopter hired by the Congress party.

Heavy rain lashed the coastal districts of Karnataka. Five people died in Dakshina Kannada and two in Kasargod in Kerala on Tuesday.

Four members of a family were killed when a compound wall collapsed on their tiled roofs in the early hours of Tuesday at Dalit colony in Thottilaguri near Bajpe, Mangalore taluk.

The deceased were Sundar (65), Sundari (60), Baby (50) and Chaitra (13). The injured, Shekhar, Leelavathi, Asha, Ashwath, Ashwini and Ajith, are recuperating at Wenlock Hospital.

In another incident, Dejappa (65) was washed away while crossing a stream at Gandibagilu in Neriya, Belthangady. The body was retrieved on Monday evening. Meanwhile, the threat of flood loomed large over Delhi as the water level in the Yamuna climbed well above the danger mark.

Actual rainfall    Normal rainfall    Departure from normal(%)
      124.3 mm           78.8 mm                               +58


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