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Damage to road, bridge links biggest challenge: ITBP chief

New Delhi, Jun 20, 2013, (PTI) :
 A car is abandoned in rubble from a landslide in Tehri, Uttarakhand. PTI Photo

Damage to roads and bridges is the biggest challenge for the agencies operating for relief and rescue in Uttarakhand, ITBP chief Ajay Chadha said today.

Chadha, who along with senior Home Ministry officials had visited the state yesterday, said "connectivity" is the biggest challenge for them.

The DG, whose force has evacuated close to 6,000 stranded people including from the worst-hit Kedarnath area, said a number of tourists and pilgrims were "traumatised" witnessing the nature's fury.

"People who we are evacuating are majorly good in terms of physical health but they are in trauma...trauma of witnessing the disaster so closely," he told reporters.

Chadha said his force and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are trying to build temporary bridges and roads so that people can be brought down and flown in small helicopters which are landing at all the major places struck by rains and floods.

"Let us finish rescue first. That is our main task. What could have happened or what should have been done can be talked about later," he said.

He said there was no casualty in his force in the present disaster though some ITBP establishments were hit.

"Some of our boys who are residents of the state are on leave and if someone is missing, it could be factored in later," he said.

ITBP has three battalions (about 3,000 men) deployed in the state for border guarding duties along the Chinese frontier.

"A total of 3,750 victims, 1,000 yatris from Govindghat- Ghangharia area and 1,500 victims from Lambagad area have been evacuated to Joshimath by our rescue teams," the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said in a statement here.

The Home Ministry late evening issued a statement saying more than 33,000 people have been rescued in the state.

"As of today, 33,192 pilgrims have been rescued to safer places. NDRF and ITBP have rescued 654 and 1,800 persons respectively as on today. 90 sorties were conducted today using 17 IAF/Army helicopters and eleven private helicopters.

"NDRF has recovered 17 dead bodies. Government of Uttarkahand has reported that 72 people have lost their lives so far. 50,422 pilgrims are still stranded at various places," the statement said.

"NH-94 between Dharasu and Rishikesh was opened today by BRO. A high Level central team headed by Union Home Secretary R K Singh visited the affected area yesterday and reviewed the position with authorities concerned at Dehradun for effective co-ordination," it added.


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