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Kin of missing, stranded pilgrims crowd Dehradun

Dehradun, June 21, 2013 (IANS):
A flood hit couple console one another after being evacuated by helicopter from the upper reaches of Uttrakhand, in Dehradun, India, Thursday, June 20, 2013. Days after floods killed more than 100 people - possibly many more - rescuers used helicopters and climbed through mountain paths to reach nearly 4,000 people trapped by landslides in a narrow valley near a Hindu shrine in the northern Himalayas, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo)
Anxious relatives holding photographs of missing kin crowded the Uttarakhand capital for news as an estimated 60,000 people, including pilgrims, continue to remain stranded in Kedarnath Friday.

"I am here for the past four days for news of my five missing relatives. We are from Rajasthan. There is no news, and no one is helping us. We have come to know from people who arrived from Gaurikund that a bottle of drinking water is being sold there for Rs.250...," an agitated man told reporters here.

Another man from Rajasthan looking for his seven relatives, said some stranded pilgrims who had arrived here from Kedarnath and surrounding areas that was hit by a cloudburst over the weekend claimed the toll was much higher than the official 150.

One middle-aged man claimed angrily that private chopper owners were charging exorbitantly to rescue people.

"Six of my relatives are stuck. The helicopter owners are charging in thousands to evacuate people. Those who have the money are giving it and flying out, others are selling the jewellery they are wearing, and those who have nothing are at the mercy of the authorities."

"The people are then dumped in a small dirty hospital, with no help or doctors around," he claimed.

According to officials, around 150 people have been killed and around 60,000 are stranded in the hill state, mostly in the temple town of Kedarnath, that was hit by torrential rains that set off flash floods and cloud bursts over the weekend.

 

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