Uttarakhand floods: Survivors recount harrowing tales

Last Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 13:19

Zee Media Bureau

Dehradun/New Delhi: There was horror and disbelief in the eyes of those were rescued from the flood ravaged areas of Uttarakhand. While some thanked God, others are too numbed to react, having seen the havoc perpetuated by the nature.

An unidentified male survivor in Dehradun, who lost his daughter and mother-in-law but himself survived the ordeal along with his wife and son, thanked god but pointed out government`s failures in the need of the hour. "We heard that a sarovar (lake) had burst. So, I immediately moved to the first floor (of his hotel). After 10-15 minutes, I saw a combination of rock and other material moving towards us. But, fortunately, when it approached our hotel, the speed had gone down. ”

"But, it hit the hotel hard and its beam cracked. We wanted to move to another hotel but I couldn`t anticipate the speed. They dragged us like anything. Three of us me, my son and my wife survived but my daughter and mother-in-law got washed away," he said. He also blamed the government for not "retrieving" the bodies.

"We were crying. We were shivering. Worst part is that the government is taking no effort to retrieve the bodies. Dogs are eating their bodies. Yes, I have seen it myself" he added.

A total of 33,192 people, stranded due to floods in Uttarakhand, were rescued in the ongoing mammoth multi-agency rescue and relief operation even as thousands are still trapped or missing in the hills.

According to the home ministry statement, a total of 50,422 pilgrims were still stranded at various places. Also, over 13,000 people are said to be missing.

For Ravindra Bhatt, a Kedarnath temple employee, coming out of the calamity that struck Uttarakhand was solely due to Lord Shiva`s "blessings". "I am a member of the temple committee. What I saw was we brushed with death that fateful night of June 16, the flood that took so may things from us. But, we were hopeful that this black night will be over. And, only we know how we bid the time that night," Bhatt said in Kedar Valley.

According to Bhatt, it was actually "Gandhital that burst" throwing people helter-skelter, as it rained for 24 hours and more. "To save myself, I climbed on the top of a three-storeyed building and jumped into the river, remained inside it for another 15 minutes. I think it was `prabhu` Kedarnath`s grace that I survived. But my fellow sevaks from the temple are still stuck there somewhere and thousands have died I believe," he said.

Chenntali, 50, keeps stretching her legs and arms. She cannot get enough of being able to move them -- for two days, she was crammed in a small room with 30 others near Uttarkashi in flood-hit Uttarakhand.

She is one of 28 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh who arrived in the national capital late Wednesday, after being stranded for four days in Uttarkashi.

“It is scary: No food, no water and no toilet. We were stuck for four days, and two of those days were spent in a static bus. For two days, we were in a small room in which 30 people were crammed. We feared we might suffocate to death,” Chenntali said.

`Never more do I want to go to Uttarakhand. It was a horrible experience. All I could see was water. A road caved in, right in front of my eyes,` a woman in her 40s said.

Kailash, his wife and his four-year-old son were airlifted from Kedarnath and brought to the district hospital in Rudraprayag with the other injured pilgrims. He got emotional as he remembered the horror in Kedarnath. "We had to walk over dead bodies. Nothing is left there, everything is finished. We can`t even find our relatives," Kailash said.

Akash and his three friends watched in horror as a rain swollen river in Uttarakhand washed away their car, leaving them stranded. On their return to Haridwar, they said they escaped the nature`s fury by taking shelter at a private helipad.

All four feel they have had a second birth. At one time, they had given up all hopes of surviving the rampaging floods in Uttarakhand that have claimed over 100 lives and affected thousands.

"We saw houses and hotels collapse like they were made of cardboard," recounted another survivor of a group from Lucknow that went to Kedarnath, one of the worst hit places in Uttarakhand.

One survivor recounted how a girl walking ahead of them was suddenly swept away in the rains. Apparently, more than 100 people, mostly pilgrims, remain stranded near Sonprayag.

Shailendra Prakash Singh, another survivor, says the destruction was so sweeping that he was left only with the clothes he was in. Everything else he had was lost.

With agency inputs



First Published: Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:51

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