Army rescuing stranded pilgrims in rain-battered Uttarakhand




By IANS,

Lucknow : Hundreds of pilgrims, cut off in Uttarakhand's Chamoli following incessant rains and landslides, were Monday evacuated to safer places by Indian Army troops, a defence spokesman said. Further evacuation was disrupted due to extensive landslides in the area.

Food, medical aid and shelter has been provided to hundreds of stranded pilgrims in the area between Govindghat and Joshimath, the spokesman told IANS.

Following incessant rainfall and flash floods in various regions of Uttarakhand, the army has been providing continuous humanitarian aid to thousands of pilgrims since late Saturday, he said.

Army assistance centres have been established at Harsil, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Govindghat, Hanuman Chetti and Darchula Sunday to provide information, medical aid, food and water to stranded and hungry pilgrims.

The army has launched a dozen reconnaissance parties to inaccessible areas to obtain first-hand information. Five columns, each comprising around approximately 125 troops, are already in location to provide assistance on ground, while another 10 columns have been kept on stand-by to move at short notice to flood-affected areas.

The army mobilized these columns without waiting for any request from civil administration, said the spokesman.

Army teams provided succour to paramilitary personnel at Sela in Pithoragarh district and detachment of mules at Gauri Kund near Kedarnath, the spokesman said.

In addition, eight Quick Reaction Medical teams have established medical aid posts at Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Govindghat and Darchula to provide immediate life-saving medical assistance, he added.

At least 11 people were dead and another 50 were missing in the heavy downpour that began Saturday night and has continued for the past two days. The met department has forecast more thunder showers in the hill state.