14 pilgrims from K'taka untraced

Minister Lad returns to City from Uttarakhand with 51 tourists

14 pilgrims from K'taka untraced

Rescue operations in Uttarakhand have saved more than one lakh flood victims, including 450 pilgrims from the State and it may be termed as the largest rescue operation in India, said Minister for Information and Infrastructure Santosh Lad on Tuesday.

After arriving at the Bengaluru International Airport from Uttarakhand with 51 pilgrims and the 10-member rescue team, Lad met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, where the chief minister interacted with the pilgrims. He lauded the efforts of the rescue team from Karnataka.

The minister said the whereabouts of 14 pilgrims are still unknown. Details of the missing pilgrims, along with their photos, have been provided to the Uttarakhand government to find and rescue them at the earliest, he said.

Team work lauded

Lad appreciated the hard work of the team which left for Uttarakhand on June 19 to assist in rescue operations. The team comprised of IAS officer Naveen Raj Singh, IPS officer Hemant Nimbalkar, KAS officer Kari Gowda and others.   

Krishna Kollar Kulkarni had come from Kollar village of Bijapur district to the airport to receive his 17 family members. He said that his relatives had been to Uttarakhand through a private travel agency on June 2 from Hyderabad.

“Problems started, in the form of severe rain, on June 14 when my relatives reached Badrinath. We tried in vain to contact them, but communication was completely cut off between June 16 and June 20,” he said. Kulkarni said he felt relieved when he was finally able to contact one of his relatives and know that all his kin were safe.

IBM employee Amit Bakshi from Bangalore had left for Uttarakhand on June 23 to ensure safe return of his 10 family members who were stranded in Badrinath.

He said that as soon as he reached Haridwar, he sought the help of the rescue team from Karnataka to find his relatives.

“I was waiting for my family members at Haridwar, who arrived safely after two days,” he said. After a fortnight of near-death experience, Pushpalatha ran towards her daughter as soon as she saw her and hugged her.

Unkind weather

Recounting the experience, she said, “The weather played spoilsport in rescue operations as mornings had clear sky and there was thick fog in the evenings.”

She said the main difficulties faced by pilgrims were harsh weather, with temperature dropping to five degrees Celsius, and food shortage. She, along with her husband Srinivasachar, stayed at the Pejawar Mutt, Kedarnath, where they spent the days having one meal a day for 15 days.

Expressing his anxiety over the missing pilgrims, IPS officer Hemant Nimbalkar said 13 members hailed from the same family in Maddur and one from Mangalore.

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