New Delhi: Thirteen people have died due to incessant rains and floods in Uttarakhand. Rains have been on for over 48 hours and among the worst hit districts are Uttarkashi, Tehri, Haridwar and Dehradun.
Telecommunication is down and the Army and ITBP have been put on high alert. Around 20,000 Hemkund pilgrims have been stranded after landslides, including cricketer Harbhajan Singh. The pilgrimage has now been put on hold.
Both Mandakini and Alaknanda, major tributaries of the Ganga, are flowing over the danger mark and the bridge connecting Rudraprayag and Gaurikund has been damaged leading to its closure, disaster management officer Meera Kenthura said. Kedarnath yatra has been suspended in view of bad weather, the officer said.
Thousands of pilgrims headed for the Himalayan shrines of Gangotri and Yamunotri got stranded as the routes had to be closed due to landslips at various points including Pipalmandi, Baraki and Nalupani. Hotels and dharamshalas in Uttarkashi district are bursting at the seams with char dham yatris occupying their lounges due to non-availability of rooms.
State Disaster Management and Rehabilitation Minister Yashpal Arya said the administration is on alert to deal with any emergency. Stranded pilgrims and people living in areas close to the rivers in spate like the Ganga and Bhagirathi are being evacuated to safer places, he said.
(With additional information from PTI)