Uttarakhand tragedy: Rescue operation ends in affected areas
Rescue operations in the flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand ended on Tuesday with the evacuation of about over 110,000 people.
"I think this could be the largest rescue operation anywhere in the world. We are checking all data on internet and other sources also to verify this. But it should be one of the largest, if not the largest," said V K Duggal, member of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
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There was tremendous relief in the corridors of power here when the report came in that the last of the stranded the pilgrims had been evacuated from Badrinath area on Tuesday morning. "A total of 155 people, including 77 through air, were evacuated from Badrinath today. This means 100 per cent of the evacuation has been completed," said Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar.
Now, only 150 local people, mostly from Mana, have been left in the area and would be taken out by Wednesday. During the fortnight-long operation, the Army, Air force, National Disaster Response Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police braved inclement weather and tough terrains to rescue the fear-stricken pilgrims after the June 16-17 deluge in the Garhwal hills. The worst affected area was Kedarnath, where casualties were huge. Mass cremation at Kedarnath would also begin on Wednesday, with the air-dropping of a 200-member team of specialised doctors, policemen, volunteers and others at the shrine area. Earlier, the local policemen were facing difficulties in conducting mass cremation due to which it was deferred. "Now after completing all necessary formalities like DNA sampling, the mass cremation will begin tomorrow in case the weather also remains friendly," said Duggal. Duggal again appealed to the media not to speculate the death toll and said the government was verifying meticulously all data to come to a definite conclusion in this regard.
"Till now, over 3,000 people are missing and 500-600 are dead," Duggal said.