Dehradun: 7:12 pm: Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi slams state government for the lack of preparedness to deal with fatal floods. "I have been stressing on safety measures for past one year. It's regrettable that the state government was not prepared for the disaster," Qureshi says. Qureshi had written to Chief Secretary of the state on June 17 a day after the devastation.
6:29 pm: An update on Army's rescue operations:
Despite inclement weather conditions, Army's efforts to provide succor, rescue and relief will continue 24x7. Intensive combing operations are on to search and link up stranded people, if any, between Jungle Chatti and Rambara.
'I have been stressing on safety measures for past one year,' Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi said.
About 1400 people are awaiting evacuation at Harsil, 50 at Dharali and 60 at Jhala on Uttarkashi axis and about 5000 at Badrinath. Uttarkashi sector: MI 17 helicopters made 16 sorties evacuating 402 people from Harsil and 683 people reached Uttarkashi by foot.
800 people moved towards Joshimath - 450 using heli-bridge and the rest using Burma Bridge constructed by Army. Evacuation by land route from Badrinath to Joshimath and Harsil to Uttarkashi as a contingency plan has been the mission of the Army.
4:19 pm: Uttarakhand government not to allow rescue work by other state governments, say sources
3:15 pm: Air sorties have begun in Guptkashi after the weather cleared.
2:11 pm: The Indian Air Force has said that air evacuation has not stopped despite bad weather in the Harsil-Dharasu axis and Rampur-Karcham-Puh-Sangla area. Six MI-17s and one ALH have flown over 52 sorties airlifting 430 people since Monday morning up to 12:30 pm and are continuing, the IAF said.
With bad weather affecting rescue operations, the IAF said, "Our helicopter rotors will not stop churning till such time we get each one of you out. Hang in there, don't lose hope."
1:29 pm: Congress Vice President, who has been out of the country, is all set to conduct an aerial survey of Uttarakhand later today.
12:50 pm: The Met department has said while it will remain cloudy in Uttarakhand on Monday, moderate rainfall will also continue. Met department director BP Yadav said, "Since yesterday there has been moderate rainfall in some areas and heavy rainfall received by some other regions. Cloud cover will remain today in most regions of Uttarakhand and moderate rainfall will continue."
11:55 am: The meeting of the National Disaster Management Authority on the Uttarakhand has ended. VK Duggal, who was made the nodal officer said, "My role is not implementation of rescue effort but to plug gaps in co-ordination. There does not seem to be any major co-ordination gaps. All agencies are doing their job at a good speed, but when a problem is of this magnitude there will be some loopholes. I am primarily addressing any issues between various agencies, states.
11:40 am: Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has said that the evacuation in Badrinath will begin now as the first priority was Kedarnath. "Now we will evacuate people from Badrinath. Our priority was Kedarnath as in Badrinath, there was food facility and shelter," Shinde said. "The death toll is expected to rise, it's difficult to give an exact figure right now," he added.
10:30 am: Uttarakhand Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya said close to 7,000 people were still stranded in Badrinath. "There are yatris in Harsil and some 6,000 to 7000 yatris stranded in Badrinath. But they are safe and there is no scarcity of food," he said. "The rescue operations have been adversely affected due to weather," he added.
10:15 am: ITBP DG Ajay Chadha said there are excessive clouds over Kedarnath and Badrinath and that is why helicopter services haven't started yet in the area.
Meanwhile, UPA chief Sonia Gandhi has flagged off aid for Uttarakhand. Trucks carrying relief material will leave from the Congress party headquarters in New Delhi.
10:05 am: Army spokesperson Brigadier Uma Maheshwari said that everyone has been evacuated from Gaurikund. She also said search operations are on despite the rains. "The focus is on the Kedar valley to search for any survivors. The focus of Army today is on Harsil, the contingency plan to evacuate the people from Harsil has started. People are being motivated to move by road. Badrinath is the next hub, the road is now open, foot column has started in Badrinath," he said.
9:51 am: Two minor landslides have been reported between the Rudraprayag and Guptkashi road. Bulldozers have been pressed into service to clear the area. Another minor landslide has been reported from the Rishikesh-Uttarkashi route.
9:14 am: The Army has suspended air operations temporarily after light showers across Uttarakhand. The rescue teams are waiting for the weather to clear to carry out helicopter operations. Meanwhile, foot evacuation is on in Badrinath.
The rescue operations are going on a war footing in Uttarakhand, where it is a race against time given the bad weather forecast for Monday. It rained across many parts of the state on Sunday and the Met department has predicted adverse weather conditions for Monday. "We are maintaining light to moderate rain. June 24 to 26 will be crucial. Low clouds might affect flying but we are hoping for it to improve," said Anand Sharma of the Met department.
So far, 80,000 people have been evacuated but more than 15,000 are still stranded across the state. The death toll has reached 1,000 and is expected to rise. The Government has announced that the cremation of the bodies of pilgrims with religious rituals will commence from Monday at Kedarnath as government officials say it is not possible to bring back all bodies. The photos and DNA samples of the deceased will be preserved for future identification.
Meanwhile, as time runs out with the weather warnings, the Army and paramilitary forces are working round the clock to reach those in inaccessible places, and are also distributing essential supplies. The Army spoke to CNN-IBN about creating a Burma bridge across the Alaknanda to help evacuate people by foot from the Badrinath-Govindghat stretch. This comes as many rope bridges have been washed away across the state. All those stranded in Jungle Chatti and Yamunotri have been rescued.
"The armed forces put to use some of the best military skill-sets to great effect in the flash-flood affected zones of Uttarakhand and rescued hundreds of fatigued and exhausted stranded tourists almost seven days after the tragedy struck the Kedar Valley," a Defence Ministry release said. "Unfavourable weather prevailed in all sectors of Uttarakhand in the morning hours on Sunday, yet IAF operations continued. 45 choppers airlifted more than 3,200 pilgrims in 250 sorties, dropping/landing 1,50,000 kg of relief material and equipment," it said.
The Ministry said the air operations began in affected areas after the C-130J undertook a weather recce mission while another aircraft carried fuel for chopper operations there. Under 'Operation Rahat', the IAF has flown 1,158 sorties and evacuated 9,228 people and dropped over 1,50,000 kg of relief material.
There is no doubt that the rescue teams are putting in the best of their efforts to rescue people. Many survivors also said the Army, Air Force and paramilitary men are heroes. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police forces in Kedarnath spend nights out in the open in freezing temperatures with only polythene sheets to cover themselves.
VK Duggal, a member of the National Disaster Management Authority, will on Monday chair the first meet of the state and central agencies on co-ordinating rescue efforts in Uttarakhand. On Friday, the government had admitted to a lack of synergy between the various agencies and that this was hampering the rescue operations in the state. The Centre appointed Duggal as the nodal officer. He is expected to leave for Dehradun later on Monday to take charge of the work there.
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has said the restoration work at the Kedarnath temple complex will begin on Tuesday and rescue operations will continue for the evacuation of the 15,000 people still stranded. "80,000 people have been rescued. 15,000 people are left to be evacuated. Rescue teams have reached the badly affected areas and are providing necessary assistance," Bahuguna said.
Help pours in
Those in distress in Uttarakhand include animals too. Anyone who's been on the Kedarnath pilgrimage route would be familiar with the horses and mules used to ferry travellers. Now a team from 'People for Animals' is in Gaurikund to help the animals.
Save the Children contact details:
Website : www.savethechildren.in
Phone : 011-42294900 / 66141335
Uttarkashi: 01374-226126, 226161
The ITBP helpline and control room numbers: 011-24362892, 9968383478
Army medical emergency helpline numbers: 18001805558, 18004190282, 8009833388
Uttarakhand Helpline numbers: 0135-2710334, 2710335, 2710233
Railway helpline numbers at Haridwar: 09760534054/09760534055;
Special helpline numbers:
State Disaster Management Centre: 0135-2710334, 2710335, 2718401-04. Fax: 2718400, 6555523, 6555524
Others: 09755444486, 09808151240, 09837134399, 999779124, 9451901023, 9456755206, 9634535758
For more information, please see the website where details are available: http://uk.gov.in
Email ID: email@example.com
Haridwar Control Room Numbers: 01334-233727, 01334-265876, 01334-223999, 01334-226849
Contact Person Dr Naresh Chaudhary: 9837352202
(With additional information from PTI)