Centre says 33,000 rescued

Centre says 33,000 rescued

Intensifying relief efforts, the Centre on Friday said different agencies have been able to move many as 33,152 persons to safer areas so far in the massive rescue operations launched over the last few days in flood-hit Uttarakhand. 

While around 500-700 people are still waiting for rescued in the Kedarnath area, rescue agencies also said that a lot of villagers staying in hilly areas were fleeing to safer areas, making the rescue efforts a little more difficult.

While more aircraft and choppers were deployed to airlift stranded people in different parts of the hilly state, the Rail Ministry operated several trains to bring back the rescued to the national capital and other destinations free of cost.

The railways are also operating special trains from Dehradun to Delhi, Ambala and Lucknow to ferry stranded pilgrims and tourists, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari here.

“The Indian Air Force (IAF) has committed 13 more aircraft in addition to the 30 already carrying out relief and rescue, taking the total number of rescue aircraft to 43, including 36 choppers -- 23 Mi-17s, 11 ALH Dhruvs, one Cheetah and one Mi-26 -- and five fixed-wing aircraft, including two C130Js, three AN 32s, one AVRO and one IL76,” said a Defence Ministry release.

The IAF has also activated two advanced landing grounds in Gauchar and Dharasu near the Kedarnath-Badrinath axis, soon after the state government requested it to shift the base of operations further north, near the worst-affected areas, said air force officials.
The world's largest chopper — the Mi-26 — has also been deployed for ferrying fuel and special-forces troops to forward areas for rescue operations.

“We have transported a 25-bed hospital using our C-130J aircraft in Dharasu. The hospital can treat over 100 people per day and can run without backup for seven days,” said Western Air Command’s senior air staff officer Air Marshal P S Gill here.
The IAF has flown over 300 sorties and rescued over 2,100 people from the worst-affected areas of Kedarnath, Dharasu and Badrinath.

Besides the Army, personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Relief Force and the Border Roads Organisation have been engaged in search, rescue and relief efforts. Efforts were also on to operationalise 207 of the 739 mobile towers in the three affected districts of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi.

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Ministry has set up aircraft refuelling centres at Rampur, Shimla and Gaucher, and efforts were being made to make available LPG cylinders to people in the affected areas.

The Department of Telecom has also issued instructions to all telecom companies that the toll-free public utility emergency numbers must be operational and accessible to customers in affected areas by Friday evening.

Joining the relief operations, the Navy has also deployed around 45 of its divers for rescuing people.

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