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Jun 19, 2013 at 03:20pm IST

Uttarakhand: Over 100 dead; toll may rise with 500 still missing

Haridwar: The monsoon that hit North India early is continuing to wreak havoc in Uttarakhand, killing more than 100 people and leaving over 70,000 tourists and pilgrims stranded. The death toll is expected to rise with 500 people still missing.

The famous Kedarnath shrine has suffered damage after it was almost completely submerged by floods and mudslides, while shops and houses around it have been razed to the ground. More than 50 people have lost their lives in the flooding at Kedarnath and over 6,000 pilgrims were stranded out of which 800 have been rescued and are at Kedarnath Phata.

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Some of the pilgrims who returned from the shrine after being stranded there for two days said that Kedarnathpuri has been totally damaged by the flood. Barring the Kedarnath shrine and some of the structures adjoining it, most of the residential wings of the temple are damaged. Bodies of pilgrims are lying in debris of damaged houses, the pilgrims said.

The Met department forecasts of heavy rain continuing are giving no signs of respite. Helicopter rescue sorties are on near Haridwar, after the government dispatched National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams to aid in rescue work. However, incessant rains and landslides have crippled communications in the state and seriously hampered rescue oprations.

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Several roads including the National Highway 24 have been blocked to avoid any more traffic jams. Uttarkashi has been badly hit by the flash floods in Uttarakhand where several bridges have been washed away and at least 70 homes been destroyed. Around 200 relief camps have been set up for those stranded.

"More persons are feared dead at Tejam in Pithoragarh district," Chief Secretary Subahash Kumar told reporters on Tuesday evening. However, he expressed inability to give a precise figure of casualties in Pithoragarh saying choppers cannot be landed at many places due to heavy flooding. He said the possibility of casualties "rising manifold" cannot be ruled out as many places with crowded settlements in the worst hit Rudraprayag district are heavily inundated, so much that they cannot even be seen from the choppers that were flown over them to take stock of the situation.

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Massive casualties are feared at the thickly populated Rambara in the district where nothing is visible from above, Garhwal Commissioner Subardhan who was also present at the joint press conference said.

Uttarakhand Helpline numbers: 0135-2710334, 2710335, 2710233

Yamuna flowing above the danger mark posing a threat to Delhi

The threat of flood, meanwhile, loomed large over Delhi as the water level in Yamuna climbed well above the danger mark. Around 1,500 people in the various low-lying areas of east Delhi have been evacuated and sent to relief camps. "The water level of Yamuna crossed the danger mark of 204.83-m at 7 am and reached 205.58-m at 7 pm," officials in the flood and irrigation department said.

They said the water level would touch 207.05-m around noon on Wednesday which will be around 2.22-m above the danger level as 9.5 lakh cusecs released by Haryana in the last two days is expected to reach Delhi. The Old Yamuna Bridge, connecting east Delhi with the heart of the national capital, was shut to rail and road traffic early on Tuesday as the water level rose dangerously.

A high alert has been issued in Uttar Pradesh following heavy rainfall across the state and the release of water by several barrages in the past 24 hours.

Four persons were killed in rain-related incidents in the state, including three teenagers who were struck by lightning in Maharajganj. Another woman was killed and six others injured when a house collapsed in heavy rains in Muzaffarnagar.

Sources said that the Sharda was flowing above the red mark at Palia Kalan with directives having been issued to evacuate 44 villages in the Mahsi area in Bahraich. MeT sources, however, said that there could be a decrease in rainfall soon although they also warned of heavy showers in isolated areas of eastern UP in the coming 24 hrs.

According to Central Water Commission sources, the levels of Sharda, Rapti, Ghaghra, Burhi Rapti, Rohin and Kuano rivers were steadily on the rise. A report from Bahraich said that with the release of 4 lakh cusecs from Nepal through Banbasa barrage, the threat of floods was imminent in the district.

Principal secretary irrigation, Deepak Singhal, said that of the 75 districts in the state, 23 were very sensitive and 11 sensitive from the flood point of view.

(With additional information from PTI)

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