Rescue operations on, 200 evacuated from Badrinath

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PILGRIMSDehradun, June 29;After an initial delay due to unfavourable weather conditions, rescue work in Badrinath area of flood-hit Uttarakhand resumed on Saturday, and nearly 200 pilgrims have so far been evacuated from the shrine, officials said.

The operation, which is in its last leg and focuses largely on Badrinath, where nearly 1,400 people were reported to be stuck, is likely to be completed by Saturday evening if the weather permits, officials said.

Helicopters started flying sorties to evacuate the pilgrims from the area.

Efforts are also being made on war-footing to ensure supply of essential relief material to over 600 villages in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, which are cut off after the floods.

2,379 metric tonnes of wheat and 2,875 metric tonnes of rice have so far been dispatched to these villages.

The frequently changing weather is hampering work as the relief material can be supplied only by air, officials said.

However, all steps are being taken to ensure enough supply of food grains, kerosene and LPG to flood-hit villages, they said.

Road network in Uttarakhand has been badly damaged in the floods, with 259 roads damaged in Tehri, 139 in Dehradun, 132 in Uttarkashi, 110 in Chamoli and 71 in Rudraparayag district.

Meanwhile, over 200 families living along the banks of Bhagirathi river have been asked to move to safer places following a rise in water level.

The MeT department, however, has sent a word of assurance, and said the rise is mainly due to melting of glaciers with the sun showing up, and there is no flood threat.

Uttarakhand MeT department Director Anand Sharma said the snow in upper reaches was melting with the sun coming out, and this was increasing water level in rivers.

He asserted there is “nothing to worry about, as it will not create any flood situation.”

“We are just expecting light showers, but no heavy rains, nothing of that sort, just light showers here and there,” Mr. Sharma said.

Earlier, bad weather interrupted the rescue operations in worst-hit Kedarnath area, as intermittent rains in Kedarnath and Guptkashi hampered the process of clearing of debris and pulling out of bodies lying underneath.

In the worst-hit Kedarnath region, cremation of bodies is on in full swing to minimise chances of an epidemic outbreak.

Till now, last rites of 34 bodies has been performed and the cremation of 12 more bodies pulled out from the debris is likely to be conducted soon.

With the threat of an epidemic outbreak looming large due to decaying bodies lying under debris, and some also flowing down the Ganga, teams of doctors are being sent to affected districts to keep up vigil, officials said.

They will remain stationed in affected areas till the danger is fully averted, they said.

Meanwhile, a team of experts from Archaeological Survey of India will visit the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand to assess the quantum of damage caused by the flood fury and restoration required for the shrine.

The team of five experts from Dehradun and Delhi will be the part of the exercise for the revered temple which bore the brunt of floods and landslides triggered by the deluge in the hill state on June 16.

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