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Rains halt rescue operations in Kedarnath

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Rains halt rescue operations in Kedarnath
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Dehradun: Weather conditions once again interrupted the rescue operations in flood-hit Uttarakhand as intermittent rains in Kedarnath and Guptkashi hampered the process of clearing of debris and pulling out of bodies lying underneath.

Adding to it, the water level in Bhagirathi river is rising continuously, because of which as many as 70 families residing along the river banks had to be taken to safer places.

Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who is scheduled to undertake a tour of Uttarkashi, could not go and is still in Dehradun waiting for the weather to clear.

The rescue operations are coming to an end and the focus is now on around 1,400 pilgrims reported to be stranded in Badrinath. Choppers have been flown to the Himalayan shrine to evacuate the remaining pilgrims.

With fewer pilgrims stranded in Badrinath now, the focus is on evacuating them as early as possible and supplying relief material to the affected villages in the worst-hit Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts, officials said.

Army chief Gen Bikram Singh had announced winding up of rescue operations in Kedarghati and said the entire focus would now be on evacuating pilgrims stuck in Badrinath.

The army personnel will remain in Uttarakhand till the last survivor in affected areas is evacuated to safety, he had said.

Bahuguna had reassured the kin of people stranded in Badrinath not to worry as they were provided with adequate supply of essentials like food and medical aid.

Efforts are being made on war-footing to ensure the supply of relief material to a large number of villages cut-off for nearly two weeks.

Shortage of essentials, including foodgrains, has been reported from over 600 villages in Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts in the wake of the natural calamity.

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

Till now, last rites of 34 bodies have been performed and the cremation of 12 more bodies pulled out from the debris will be conducted soon.

Meanwhile, a team of experts from the 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.

PTI

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