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Jun 22, 2013 at 10:27pm IST

Uttarakhand floods toll mounts to 1000; rains likely to hit rescue efforts again

Dehradun: Massive rescue operations continued on Saturday in Uttarakhand, a week after fatal floods hit the northern state and claimed at least 1000 lives. 73,000 people have been evacuated so far.

One of the most difficult operations of the the Indian Army is on in an isolated area called Junglechetti between Ram Bara and Gaurikund. Almost half of the 1000 people stranded there have been airlifted so far.

ALSO SEE Uttarakhand CM says flood death toll at least 1000, many still stranded

CNN-IBN reached Badrinath, where thousands are still stranded but are safe. Rescue work is also underway in Sonprayag - the highest area accessible to civilians where the Indian Army has built a temporary bridge to move hundreds out.

Rescue work is now on a war footing in Uttarakhand as the Met department has predicted more rains by Monday. The death toll has now touched a thousand and is expected to rise; and in a grim indicator of things to come, four bodies have turned up downstream in Bijnaur district of Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.

ALSO SEE Uttarakhand floods: Here's how you can help

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has told CNN-IBN that bodies are being recovered from debris. "Casualties are definitely more than 500 and it could also be in thousands, but the correct figure will only be known once the slush is cleared," said Bahuguna. Ajay Chadha, DG ITBP, also said the toll could be higher but the actual estimate can only be made once the rescue operations wrap up.

Authorities at the moment are focusing on air lifting and evacuating locals and tourists who are stranded in the state. An estimate suggests that when the tragedy struck, 9000 people were present in Kedarnath and now over 700 tourists and 2800 palanquin bearers are missing.

ALSO SEE Uttarakhand: Challenges await rescue teams as Met predicts more rains

Tourists staying in over 250 hotels between Gaurikund and Kedarnath are also missing while 700 government officials and 500 local traders are also reported to be missing. By calculation, just in Kedarnath alone, the death toll could be close to 15,000.

"They say the number of dead are only hundred. I was there. The number of deaths could be over 15,000," Bihar BJP leader Ashwani Choubey said. As Uttarakhand struggles to deal with its worst ever calamity, it looks like it will take months for the real magnitude of the situation to emerge.

ALSO SEE Lists of people rescued in Uttarakhand

Meanwhile, it has not taken too long for politics to be played over the human tragedy in Uttarakhand. On a day when Narendra Modi flew over the state, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said only the state chief minister should be doing aerial surveys. Ironically both the Congress and the BJP are accusing each other of politicking over the tragedy.

"Nobody, except the chief minister of the state should go there at the moment," Shinde said, but he was flanked by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Dehradun. Even as the security forces are struggling to meet up to the demands of those trapped in the disaster, the politicians are already catering to the demands of their constituencies.

ALSO SEE Many dead bodies unrecognisable: Home Minister

"All the choppers should be made to fly to Uttarakhand and secure every living individual," said BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi. Congress is quick to defend yet another absence of Rahul Gandhi in times of crisis, but in his defence, the Congress pointed, out VVIPs should avoid rushing to the state.

But, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were the first to conduct an aerial survey of the state on June 19. And even as Uttarakhand suffered, its Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was in New Delhi, waiting to meet the Prime Minister.

BJP President Rajnath Singh visited Uttarakhand on June 20 while both Shinde and Modi are in the state on Saturday.

Helpline numbers:

Uttarkashi: 01374-226126, 226161

Chamoli: 01372-251437

Tehri: 01376-233433

Rudraprayag: 01732-1077

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;

Dehradun: 01352622131;

Rishikesh: 01352434167

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: relief-uk@nic.in

Haridwar Control Room Numbers: 01334-233727, 01334-265876, 01334-223999, 01334-226849

Contact Person Dr Naresh Chaudhary: 9837352202

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