New Delhi: The killer floods triggered by heavy rain have devastated Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the two northern states, where at least 130 people have died and more than 70,000 are stranded. Many of those who are stuck were on their way to the famous temple of Kedarnath. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are expected to visit Uttarakhand today.
Here are 10 developments in the story:
- The death toll in Uttarakhand has reached 102. Rudraprayag district was the worst hit with 20 people dead and 73 buildings, including 40 hotels, along the banks of the Alaknanda swept away in the swirling waters of the river.
- 73,000 people remain stuck in the state, many of them pilgrims from other states who were headed to the four shrines or "Char Dham" that include Badrinath and Kedarnath. 6000 are stranded on the Harsil-Gangotri route alone where 15 landslides have taken place. (Pics of the rain rampage)
- The famous Kedarnath shrine was virtually submerged in mud and slush. A portion of the Kedarnath temple compound was washed away but authorities said no damages were reported to the structure itself. (Read)
- About 500 people, including 45 policemen, are reported to be missing around the Kedarnath temple area. Authorities say that the death toll may rise once water recedes and relief teams are able to access the remote areas.
- The immediate focus is to rescue thousands of tourists and pilgrims. The PM has spoken to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and promised all help. Union Home Secretary R K Singh said food, medicines and blankets were air-dropped in remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, too, talked to the chief ministers of the two states. The Uttarakhand government has set up helplines: 0135-2716201, 2710925
- The Army is leading rescue operations. 5,000 soldiers have been deployed in the worst-affected areas. 18 Air Force helicopters are being used to air-lift stranded pilgrims, tourists and residents in Uttarakhand and neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. The state government has also hired private choppers to assist rescue operations. The Army has evacuated close to 4,000 stranded pilgrims in the last two days. The speed of rescue has picked up after the rain stopped yesterday.
- Television footage has shown bridges, houses and other buildings crashing down and being washed away by the swirling waters. A swollen river is seen engulfing a giant statue of Lord Shiva in the city of Rishikesh. (Share your pics and videos here)
- Several people have also been killed in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and nearly 1,500 tourists are stranded in different parts. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who stuck for more than 60 hours in Kinnaur, was air-lifted this morning along with a dozen other tourists, some of them sick or senior citizens. Kinnaur, which has seen its heaviest rain in 20 years, still continues to be cut off. (Read: Himachal Chief Minister rescued after 60 hours)
- Four persons were killed in rain-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh, 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. 150 villages have also been affected in Kannauj. A high alert has been issued following heavy rainfall across the state and the release of water by several barrages since yesterday.
- In Delhi, the Yamuna river is flowing above the danger mark. Around 1500 people who live near the river in east Delhi have been evacuated. The government said 20 camps have been set up to provide shelter and medical assistance.