Zee Media Bureau
Dehradun: The death toll in Uttarakhand floods has crossed 550 and is expected to go up further once bodies are recovered from the slush and mud lying everywhere.
Rescue agencies, including the Army and the ITBP, are carrying out massive operations to rescue stranded people from the mountains but they too are racing against time. Their worst fear is the weather, which is again expected to take turn for the worse.
According to Met officials, heavy rains are expected to lash the flood-hit state once again beginning Monday and rescuers are left with just two days to save thousands of people stranded in upper reaches of the state, including the pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
For those stranded, weather is just one worry. Many of the stranded are old pilgrims and they are finding it the most difficult to survive on hope without food or shelter.
Even ITBP chief Ajay Chaddha has admitted that they are “running against time". Chaddha said over 1,000 people are still stranded in inaccessible areas of around Kedarnath and are braving freezing nights without shelter and hardly any food.
Rescue officials say many have already died due to hunger and illness.
Other than the Kedarnath axis, somewhere around 10,000 people each are believed to be stranded in the Badrinath-Hemkunt Sahib axis and the Gangotri-Yamunotri axis.
Uttarakhand principal secretary Subhas Kumar told a leading daily that they are expecting to rescue all trapped people by June 24 (Monday) – the day when heavy rains are expected to return.
Uttarakhand saw over 60 hours of continuous and heavy rains coupled with few incidents of cloudbursts at various locations from June 14 to 17, which led to the flooding of the state`s main rivers: Alaknanda and Bhagirathi.