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Uttarakhand floods: Helplines abuzz with frantic calls

Last Updated: Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 19:11

New Delhi: Control rooms of various state governments set up here are abuzz with frantic phone calls as relatives of stranded tourists in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand are calling anxiously to find out their whereabouts.
While operations are underway on a war footing to rescue pilgrims stranded in various places, authorities at the control rooms are trying to console anxious victims and family members calling to know the whereabouts of their dear ones.

"We are receiving about 1,000 calls daily, mostly from family members back home who are trying to locate their dear ones," said an official at the control room set-up by the West Bengal Government.

An official of the control room operated by the Chhattisgarh government in Delhi said, "We are sorting out the data of the rescued persons that is provided to us by the Uttarakhand government and the family members are being informed."

Budhaditya Mukherjee, one of the rescued pilgrims from West Bengal, said the ordeal began last Wednesday when he was stuck at the Hanuman Choti on his way to Yamunotri, when incessant rains forced him and a group of pilgrims with him to turn back.

"We saw the hotel near ours crash into the Yamuna as the flood washed away the soil below it," he said.

"There was knee deep slush on the road, but our driver managed to turn around and after travelling till Kharati, we saw police officials trying to make a road using JCBs, as the highway washed off," he added.

He said that the locals and the rescue officials helped us in reaching one of the camps operated by the state government who rescued him and brought him to Delhi, while seniors in his group were provided facilities to travel back to Kolkata.

The rescued pilgrims said that the major problem was shortage of food, though various camps were trying their best to provide it.

"The food in the hotels located in the safer areas are being sold at double the price, while the camps are trying their best to provide food to stranded pilgrims," said Mukherjee, who stayed at a makeshift camp before being shifted to Delhi.

According to officials of the West Bengal control room, a family from Kolkata was rescued along with 200 others this afternoon from a gorge near Kedarnath by the Army.

"There are calls from people of the neighbouring states also, who might not be getting through the helplines set-up by their states, we are trying to help them also," said the official from the West Bengal control room.

"The biggest problem we are facing is that the pilgrims are moving out on their own, so it is difficult to pin-point their location and inform the rescuers," said a control room personnel of the Chhattisgarh Government.


First Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 19:11
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