Rain claims 73 lives, over 73,000 pilgrims stranded

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New Delhi, June 18, 2013, (PTI)

Rain fury today claimed 11 more lives in the north, taking the toll to 73, even as 71,440 pilgrims bound for the Himalayan shrines remained stranded in monsoon-ravaged Uttarakhand apart from 1700 people stuck in Himachal Pradesh.

Though rescue efforts picked up momentum in flash flood and landslide hit areas of Himachal and Uttarakhand with a let up in the rains and decrease in water level in the Ganga and its tributaries, the whole of Uttarakhand still wore a marooned and devastated look.

Flashfloods, cloudbursts and subsequent landslips have claimed 44 lives in Uttarakhand, left as many injured and fully damaged 175 houses across the state.

Rudraprayag was the worst hit where 20 people perished and 73 building including 40 hotels along the banks of the Alaknanda were swept away by the swirling waters of the river.



A huge number of pilgrims totalling 71,440, who were bound for the Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are stranded in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts with the famous char dham yatra still suspended due to massive damage to the road network.

The maximum number of 27040 devotees are stranded in Chamoli, 25000 in Rudraprayag and 9,850 in Uttarkashi, Disaster Management authorities said.

Officials said water level of Bhagirathi in Uttarkashi and Ganga in Rishikesh had begun to recede.

In Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was stranded in tribal Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours due to landslides triggered by incessant rains, was evacuated this morning even as 1700 people remained stranded at various places.

A chopper hired by Congress party airlifted the chief minister this morning as rains abated and weather cleared this morning and about a dozen persons, including some old and ailing persons were brought to Rampur in the state helicopter, officials said.

In Uttar Pradesh, four persons were killed in rain-related incidents even as the state government issued a high alert in the wake of unexpected increase in discharge in major rivers including Ganga, Yamuna and Shrada.

While three teenagers were killed in Maharajganj after being struck by lightning, a woman was killed and six others were injured when a house collapsed during heavy rains in Muzaffarnagar.

UP Principal Secretary (Irrigation) Deepak Singhal said that in the wake of continuous downpour in the last 24 hours and incidents of cloudburst in Uttarakhand and Nepal, there has been unexpected increase in discharge of Ganga, Yamuna and Sharda.

On Monday, eight lakh cusec water was released in Yamuna from Hathinikund barrage and more than four lakh cusec water discharge passed in Sharda river in Banbasa.

He said that out of the 75 districts in the state, 23 were very sensitive and 11 sensitive from the flood point of view.

A day after normal life was paralysed in a few parts of Haryana, particularly Yamunanagar and Karnal districts, there was a decrease in rainfall activity across the state.

Yesterday, several villages in Yamunanagar district were under flood waters as rain water had entered several houses.

The rains had also led to an alarming increase in the water level of Yamuna, with an all-time record over 8.06 lakh cusecs water flowing through Hathni Kund barrage yesterday, prompting authorities to sound a high alert in districts of Karnal, Panipat, Sonipat and Faridabad.

However today, the water flowing through the barrage continued to decrease since yesterday afternoon and at 10 AM today, it was around 1.73 lakh cusecs.

In Punjab, Amritsar (9.5 mm), Patiala (trace rains), Nakodar (5 mm), besides capital town Chandigarh (1 mm) were among the few places to receive light rains.

The level of water in the Bhakra dam today touched 1595.04 feet. The reservoir’s upper limit is 1680 feet.

“There is no reason for any alarm as of now. The present level is normal for the rainy season considering that monsoon has arrived early this season,” a Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) official said.

The MeT official said that heavy rainfall activity in Punjab and Haryana is likely to further decrease from Thursday.

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