Uttarakhand: weather department says it had urged govt to evacuate people

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Uttarakhand: weather department says it had urged govt to evacuate people
New Delhi/Dehradun:  As Uttarakhand battles the widespread damage caused by torrential rain, the state's weather department has said that warnings were sent out to the government which warned them not only of very heavy rains but also urged them to move people to safer areas.

"We were predicting heavy rains from 14th onwards and we had informed the state government. On 15th again, we had issued the warnings with the possibility of very heavy rains and landslides. We had also said that people should not venture into the hills and those living in hills should move to safer places. We had also said that the Char Dham Yatra should be postponed by four days," Anand Kumar Sharma, Director, Uttarakhand Meteorological Department, told NDTV.

Mr Sharma also said that this was the first time that the warning for very heavy rains was issued. (Full coverage)

The Uttarakhand government admitted that there was warning for heavy rains, but said cloud bursts couldn't have been predicted. Uttarakhand's Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya said the government did the best they could.

"There were predictions of heavy rain but the probability of it happening was far-fetched. Lakhs of pilgrims were present at different places and heavy rain came along with the cloud bursts in Kedarnath. In such conditions, what could the government have done? We did what we could and we will continue to work harder. The government will discharge its responsibility honestly," Mr Arya said.

More than 1,000 people have perished since heavy rain started lashing the state two weeks ago. The temple towns of Badrinath and Kedarnath were the worst hit; 300 bodies were found buried in the silt near the 1,000-year-old Kedarnath temple.

Over one lakh people have been rescued so far from the state in heroic efforts led by the Army and the Air Force. But over 3000 are still missing, while more than 1,000 are still stranded. According to an interim report, the state has also suffered a loss of Rs. 700-800 crore in the floods, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar said.



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