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Uttarakhand floods: 8000 stranded in Kedarnath; toll likely to rise


Subhajit Sengupta, Priyali Sur, CNN-IBN
Jun 19, 2013 at 11:37pm IST

Haridwar: At least 6000 to 8000 people are still holed up in the temple town of Kedarnath, said to be the worst affected by the floods in Uttarakhand. The geography of the temple town, which is situated in the remotest part of the north Indian state, coupled with bad weather is making it difficult for the rescue team to reach the place.

Those rescued from Kedarnath recount the ground realities, admitting that Kedarnath town fell like a pack of cards. "The centuries old holy town now is now covered in debris. The temple is all that's still standing. Kedarnath has clearly borne the brunt of nature's fury," said one survivor. "Except the temple, everything else has been destroyed, nothing is left," said Ganesh Godiyal.

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The government had resumed rescue operations after the weather cleared up following days of torrential rains. Twenty two helicopters were used through the day to airlift those who could not be reached by ground. The chopper service was available round the clock from Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport.

The survivors gave startling accounts of the ground realities of the worst hit areas. Gangadhar Pandey, who was one of the those rescued by the search teams, said he lost everything in the flash flood at Kedarnath. He was helped by a driver. "Meri gaadi, mera paisa, mere kapde sab bhe gaye they ek driver ne meri madat ki (I have lost my car, my clothes. A driver helped me)," he said.

The roads leading to Kedarnath remain closed due to landslides and flooding. CNN-IBN reporters found landslides on way to Kedarnath, which were later cleared up.

As concerns rose about the safety of their loved ones, hundreds of worried family members called CNN-IBN to learn about their relatives stuck in the Kedarnath region. "My parents are blood pressure patients, there's no medical facility there, they have been stuck there for five days," said a caller.

"I have been trying all Uttarakhand helpline numbers, none of them are working, only getting information through news channels," another said. As the search teams slowly make way to the remote areas, apprehensions arise that casualty figures could rise. Authorities say a large number of registered guides and travellers are still reported missing. They claim that the real battle has only just begun.

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