Rescue efforts to end soon; nation remembers martyrs

Rescue efforts to end soon; nation remembers martyrs

Nearly a fortnight after the deluge, the mammoth relief and rescue operation launched by the Army, IAF and other agencies entered its last leg on Friday with evacuations likely to be completed by Friday or Saturday night.

The Army and Air Force put in all its efforts to ensure that evacuations were completed by Friday, but the process was hit owing to inclement weather. Multiple sorties from various locations were interrupted due to adverse flying conditions. At the time of filing this report, evacuation was still on in Badrinath.

The worrisome part though is that there are about 3,000 people who are still missing. With a large number of people untraceable, and their bodies feared trapped under layers of debris, the focus now will be on finding them, said Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who reached Dehradun on Friday.

Relatives have been desperately waiting at various locations hoping to hear some news about their loved ones. The Army commando teams have also launched a search operation in the Ganga near Haridwar on raft motor boats to locate floating dead bodies.
Close to two dozen bodies have been recovered so far from various locations downstream in Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, mass cremation in Kedarnath continued for the third day on Friday. There were about 120 bodies that were strewn all over the temple town area. It is said that there could be hundreds of more bodies lying under the debris in and around the temple.

The focus from evacuations has not shifted to relief of hundreds of villages that have been hit by the floods. The Army is willing to participate in relief operations as well.

Guard of honour

A ceremonial guard of honour was given to the 20 soldiers, who died in Tuesday’s chopper crash while rescuing stranded people, in Dehradun on Friday.

Bodies in coffins wrapped with the tricolour were saluted as the nation paid tributes to the brave soldiers.

Shinde and Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh reached Dehradun for the ceremony. Union Minister of State for Tourism K Chiranjeevi and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna were also present.

Gen Singh said the armed forces will continue their operations till all the people are rescued from various locations.

Gen Singh said commanders have been asked to launch relief operations in very, very difficult conditions in a proactive manner, without waiting for any requisition from authorities.

“Our endeavour is to locate all our citizens, wherever they are, and get them out,” he said in Gauchar.  

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