Dehradun: Days after Uttarakhand was pounded by landslides and torrential rain, 50,000 people are still stranded. Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said today that over 550 people have been found dead. The government has warned that the death toll could rise dramatically as flood waters recede and rescue workers reach isolated areas.
Here are the 10 latest developments:
- Officials say most areas that were inaccessible so far have been accessed by rescuers now. The Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBF) said most evacuations should be completed by Sunday. (Full coverage)
- More than 50,000 people have been rescued in recent days, the government said, with unconfirmed reports of another 14,000 people "missing" - there is no information about their whereabouts. (Trying to find someone? Post info here, we will try to help)
- Rescuers found 41 bodies floating in the Ganga at Haridwar on Friday morning.
- Uttarakhand spokesman Amit Chandola said nearly 27,000 people have been evacuated from the worst-hit area around the Kedarnath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple at the top of the Garhwal Himalayan range has escaped major damage, but the area around is covered in debris.
- 9,000 people are awaiting rescue in the holy town of Badrinath.
- Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat said, "It will take us at least five years to recover from the extensive damages caused to the entire infrastructure network in the Kedarnath area which is the worst affected". He said of the temple, "The centre of faith has turned into a burial ground. Bodies are scattered in the area."
- 55 helicopters are being used in what is the military's largest rescue and relief operation ever. An Mi-26 - the largest helicopter in the world - is being used to fly fuel to smaller choppers, and to airlift equipment needed to clear and repair roads and bridges which were washed away. Two elite teams of Navy divers - each consisting 12 divers - have also been sent to aid in rescue efforts. (10 dramatic pictures of rescue operations)
- Two 30-metre-long bridges are being airlifted to Kedarnath and Joshimath. Footage shows people in mountain areas trying to walk to safer ground, aided by soldiers, using ropes to climb down cliffs.
- At the airport in Dehradun, the state's capital, angry families waiting for relatives to arrive on rescue helicopters say they are being offered little information and assistance by the government. Lists of people rescued are inaccurate, they say. Residents of the area are helping out by cooking meals and providing them for families who've been waiting at the Jolly Grant Airport for days. (Here's how you can help)
- Those who have been rescued share horrifying accounts of the devastation. A man who spoke to NDTV in a hospital in Dehradun said he had lost two members of his family including his young daughter. "No matter how quickly we moved, the mud moved faster," he said.