They survived for four days on three cucumbers

They survived for four days on three cucumbers

An affluent family of four from Ludhiana in Punjab, who reached Dehradun on Tuesday morning, survived in the wilderness for four days. They shared three cucumbers among themselves, begged for torn pieces of blankets that cover mules and walked 20 km through the forests, at times in pitch dark and amid heavy rain.

So deeply entrenched was the fear of falling prey to nature’s fury that the family barely stopped, not even to pee. They shared their story with Deccan Herald on Tuesday.

Their five-day ordeal eventually ended, but the family has a new challenge at hand, perhaps even more daunting than surviving the catastrophe. Their 12-year-old son Sarvesh is missing.

 They don’t know where he is, alive or dead. Scurrying through the wilderness in the dark, amid the deafening sound of water, the family lost Sarvesh, his father Sandeep Salwan, who owns a hosiery unit, told Deccan Herald. They climbed to a height of 100 metres, undeterred by the thorny bushes which pierced their palms, to avoid falling in the raging waters beneath as the roads continued to cave in. Ironically, this was their maiden trip to Kedarnath.

They said they died a thousand deaths in the last five days. “There were people who slept with us one night and died the next morning. Some died because of the inclement weather and some for lack of medicine or treatment,” Meenakshi, a woman member of the family, said.

There were heartrending moments when members of the families were constrained to throw bodies of their loved ones, who died en route, in the gushing waters.

“On the day the floods hit the temple town, there were around 10,000 people around the premises. The route that was full of hustle and bustle presented a horror image. All shelters came down crumpling like a pack of cards,” she said.

Sandeep and Meenakshi’s daughter, Manvi, said people fled for their lives and the temple town soon wore a deserted look. “After short intervals, dozens of people used to start running in all directions as massive landslides kept occurring,” she said.

Sandeep said he dropped his baggage since it was not possible to carry the weight for too long. “My trouser was completely torn and I had to beg for a pajama,” he said.
Teams of the Army and other agencies eventually rescued them. The family says the worst is still not over, with Sarvesh missing.

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