Evacuation of stranded pilgrims begins in Uttarakhand

Lucknow/Dehradun, June 26 (IANS) The Uttarakhand government on Friday began rescue and evacuation measures for the stranded pilgrims hit by inclement weather during the annual Char Dham Yatra, officials said.

The state has received heavy rainfall in the last 24-hours from Thursday morning and the meteorological department has indicated no sign of respite from the monsoon showers.

While five Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers have been pressed into service to help and evacuate stranded pilgrims on various routes of the pilgrimage, many army personnel have also been sent to repair bridges that have been swept away or damaged in the downpour.

Rescue operations by the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) also began at Govindghat, Ghangharia, Guptkashi and many other places in Chamoli district, district officials told IANS.

The Laxman Ganga bridge in Chamoli has suffered extensive damage and efforts are on to repair it.

The Alaknanda river, which caused maximum damage in the flash floods of 2013, is once again in spate.

Hundred metres of Badrinath highway has been washed away in Lambagad and thousands of pilgrims, tourists and locals are stranded on the route.

Besides, 1,500 people were halted in Badrinath while over 800 pilgrims are caught in inclement weather en route to Hemkund Saheb.

The motor bridge at Soneprayag has also been washed away in the torrential downpour and Gangotri highway has also been closed, informed the officials.

The officials also said that Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat was personally monitoring the situation and added that the first priority of the state government was to ensure the pilgrims’ safety.

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