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Jun 21, 2013 at 10:39pm IST

Damage has been massive, it will take a long time to rebuild Uttarakhand, says CM

Haridwar: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Friday conceded that the torrential rains has left the state devastated and that it will take a long time before normalcy returns back to the hill state. Speaking to CNN-IBN's Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate, Bahuguna said the extent of damage in the state is huge.

"It's very tragic that so many people have died in this calamity. It will take a long time to rebuild Uttarakhand," said Bahuguna, adding that the holy town of Kedarnath has suffered the worst. "There will be no Kedarnath Yatra for the at least next two years," he said.

He said that over 556 bodies have been recovered in the state so far and "there are reports that more could buried under the debris." The Chief Minister also said that it will take another 15 days for the rescue teams to evacuate flood victims as the roads leading to the affected areas have been damaged badly. Bahuguna, however, denied reports that his government had received warning in advance. "We were not warned about any cloud burst," he said.

Asked about the lack of preparedness by the state in dealing with such tragedies, he said that the state was "very close to put up a Doppler radar but there were certain concerns by various ministries."

The Chief Minister also denied any delay in sending rescue teams to the devasted areas and clarified that the state did not have adequate personnel to meet such challenge. "The magnitude of the calamity is so huge that not even the Government of India has a force which can handle such a situation".

Bahuguna, however, assured that those stranded in areas across the state are safe. "Those who are stuck in certain areas in Uttarakhand, there is no threat to their lives," the CM added.

He claimed that about 30,000 have been evacuated till now adding that evacuation will be completed in another 15 days.