New Delhi: Though over 150 people are reported dead so far from the "Himalayan Tsunami" in Uttarakhand, officials say they expect the death toll to eventually hit the thousands. Many parts of the state where people are stranded remain inaccessible. 65,000 people are waiting to be rescued.
Here are the latest developments in the story:
- The Supreme Court said today that sufficient number of helicopters must be deployed to rescue flood-affected people in the state. It has also asked for a report on the relief and rehabilitation work in the state by June 25. (Spare no effort, Supreme Court orders government)
- Many parts of the state where people are stranded remain inaccessible. Kedarnath - the epicentre of the devastation - remains near-impossible to reach. Bad weather this morning has prevented military helicopters from landing here. Amit Chandola, a state spokesman, said authorities so far have been unable to reach eight villages feared washed away by the weekend floods. He said the official death in Uttrakhand is 104 but added, "We don't know yet what happened to hundreds of people living there." (See hardest-hit areas in Uttarakhand)
- A joint operation by the Army, Air Force and paramilitary forces has so far evacuated nearly 13,000 people stranded in the area but nearly 62,000 people remained cut off, officials said. 30 IAF aircraft and 12 Army Aviation choppers are being used to air-lift and help stranded people. 8,500 Army troops are helping the National Disaster Response Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel in rescue efforts (Pics: Army called in for relief)
- 90 soldiers were sent to Kedarnath this morning. They are carrying communication equipment, medicines and food. Army helicopters dropped 2000 food packets in areas near Kedarnath today. (Here's how you can help)
- Over 5000 people remain trapped in and around the famous Kedarnath temple. Pilgrims were headed here to visit the 1000-year-old shrine before it closed for the monsoon, which arrived two weeks early and with relentless force. Another 15,000 are stuck in Badrinath and nearby areas.
- The Kedarnath temple is submerged in slush and mud, but is not damaged. But because roads all around it have caved in, the temple will be off-limits for a year, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahugana said on Wednesday.
- This time of year is when Hindu devotees visit Uttarakhand in huge numbers for the char-dham yatra, or a pilgrimage to the four holy sites of Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Badrinath.
- Houses, multi-storied buildings, cars, bridges as well as roads have been swept away or badly damaged after rivers burst their banks. (See pics) | (Share your pics and videos here)
- Local officials said 40 relief camps have been set up to provide food, water and other aid to locals and tourists. Air force helicopters from different parts of the state are taking many of those rescued to the camps, with a control centre set up in the holy town of Badrinath.
- The helplines for Uttarakhand are: Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi and Chamoli: +919808151240, +919837134399; Pauri, Haridwar and Nainital: +91999779124, +919451901023; Almora, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh: +919456755206, +919634535758; Uttarakhand Disaster Management Secretary 9837542221 (Helpline numbers to reach for assistance)