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Thousands of pilgrims from UP still trapped, missing

Lucknow, June 20, 2013, DHNS: 1:48 IST
Thousands of devotees from different parts of Uttar Pradesh are reported to be either trapped or missing in Uttarakhand five days after cloudbursts and heavy rains caused large scale devastation en route to Kedarnath shrine from Rishikesh.

Though officials are unable to offer a precise figure, sources said the number of devotees trapped could be more than 10,000. Hundreds from the state remain untraceable.
Harried relatives of the trapped and missing people have been trying to help their near and dear ones through whatever means they can.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday started a helpline to provide information about the people of the state rescued by the authorities or have fallen victim to the nature's fury.

The government has also pressed into service a large number of buses to ferry the people from the state from Rishikesh and Hardwar, the officials said.

Sources said a large number of pilgrims from the state, who had visited the Kedarnath shrine were trapped at Joshimath, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag and other smaller places awaiting help to get to the plains.

In some cases, the entire families have been reported missing.

“I have not received any call from my brother since last Saturday,” said Naveen Sharma of Aligarh, whose brother and his family had embarked on a visit to Kedarnath a few days back.

Similarly Nand Lal of Allahabad, who also had gone to Kedarnath with his family on June 11, has not contacted his kin since Sunday. “His cell phone is switched off. We have no information about them,” his mother said.

Sources said at least 25 families from Lakhimpur-Kheri district have reportedly gone missing in the hill state.

The relatives, who managed to speak to their kin, said survivors could die of starvation unless relief reached them immediately. Some survivors are reported to have strayed into the forested areas and may have lost their way, sources said.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said the government would provide all possible help to the stranded pilgrims from UP in Uttarakhand. But given the magnitude of the devastation, it appears that the stranded and trapped devotees may have to wait.

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