Zee Media Bureau
Gauchar/Guptkashi: Multiple agencies involved in the search and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Uttrakhand wrapped up their mission in Kedarnath on Thursday.
As per reports, all those stranded in the temple town of Kedarnath have been evacuated and the job of clearing debris and searching dead bodies will now be undertaken by the state government agencies.
The rescuers had to suspend their work this afternoon after the weather turned bad and heavy rains lashed Badrinath, Dharsu and Harsil sectors where many people are still stranded.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers, which resumed making sorties to rescue people and deliver relief material in these regions, had to halt the rescue operations as inclement weather, fog and rains affected visibility.
At least 400 people are reported to be missing and the authorities have no clue about them. The relief and rescue operations are likely to be completed in the next 48 hours.
Bodies of IAF chopper crash victims found
Meanwhile, the bodies of 19 military personnel who died after an IAF helicopter crashed in Uttarakhand on Tuesday have been found this afternoon.
"Nineteen bodies have been recovered," Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) spokesman Deepak Pandey said. Ten of the bodies have been brought to Gauchar, which is being used as an air base for rescue operations.
The first batch of 15 yatris also arrived from Badrinath at the Joshimath air base this morning after the IAF resumed air rescue operations.
IAF Task Force Commander Rajesh Issar told reporters that the rescue operations will be completed in Harsil today. The IAF has so far rescued some 600 to 700 people from Harsil on Wednesday, he said.
Army officials said that they have managed to evacuate 200 people from the pilgrimage site of Harsil but another 200 people remain to be brought out of there.
Need to stock food: CM
Meanwhile, the Himalayan state’s Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today stressed on the need to food stocks for two months, however, he said that there is ample relief material available.
“There is ample relief material which will be sent.Want at least 2 months stock to be available to them,” Bahuguna was reported as saying.
The Chief Minister also said that relief material has been dropped using helicopters in 40 villages.
Mass cremation resumes in Kedarnath
Amid fears of an epidemic outbreak, the mass cremation of unidentified bodies began yesterday in the temple town of Kedarnath- the most hit by the natural disaster. The administration also resumed cremation of dead pilgrims at Kedarnath in accordance with religious tenets when the rain stops today.
The Health Department has warned people in adjoining areas not to consume river water as it may be highly polluted. With the air thick with foul smell of decaying bodies in the area adjoining the Kedarnath shrine, the department has expressed apprehensions about spread of various infectious diseases.
On Tuesday, around 350 dead bodies were cremated.
Over 1,000 stranded people were evacuated from Badrinath and Harshil sectors by air and road routes despite rain and fog yesterday.
Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne also visited Uttarakhand to boost the morale of his men in the wake of an IAF chopper crash near Gaurikund in which 20 people were killed.
Around 3,500 people are still waiting to be evacuated from Harsil and Badrinath areas. Around one lakh stranded people have been rescued so far since the disaster struck the hill state on June 15.
Vice chairman of NDMA M Sashidhar Reddy said there is high possibility of the death toll climbing up.
DGP Satyavrat Bansal said disposal of all the bodies at Kedarnath was an onerous task with a large number of bodies lying underneath tonnes of debris and extricating them would not be easy as heavy equipment like JCBs will be need to be transported to the high altitude shrine for the purpose.
Till now, Matli, Bhatwari, Maneri have been fully evacuated. In Badrinath, one MI-17 and three Civil Helicopters are in operation for evacuations. More choppers have been kept on standby.
With PTI inputs