Army men brave the inhospitable terrains to make way for rescue operations. Over 60 helicopters of the Army and Air Force have been pressed into service in what is being considered as the biggest rescue operation launched by the armed forces. There are warnings of rains to returning to the state either on Sunday or Monday.






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Army men bring a batch of pilgrims to safety in Jungle Chatti.

On Saturday, nearly 10,000 people were evacuated, with at least 2,000 being rescued by the Army from critical areas including Jungle Chatti, in mountains between Gaurikund and Rambara in Kedarnath.





The rescue operations in the area is a big challenge for the Army given the mountainous terrains. It is extremely inhospitable, and is totally cut off. Choppers find it difficult to land, says the Army.






An elderly pilgrim is assisted by the Army to alight from a chopper.

The focus of operations is on Jungle Chatti and Kedarnath, where several people are stuck. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to locate survivors in remote areas that still remain inaccessible.





Stranded pilgrims are rescued by the Army in the flood-ravaged areas of Jungle Chatti in Kedar Valley.

Sorties are being conducted in the affected areas to bring the stranded back to safety. While 8,000 pilgrims are awaiting help in the holy town of Badrinath, 1,000 more are stuck in Pithorgarh. Nearly 100 others are stranded at Hemkund Sahib.






A group of rescued pilgrims in conversation with Army men inside an Army camp.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had on Saturday said that the casualty figures are certainly far higher and could easily touch the one thousand mark.




THE Army today evacuated first batch of 1000 people, who were located in the mountains between Gaurikund and Rambara on the Kedarnath axis in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand in the morning. In one of the worst tragedies to have struck north India in recent times, 550 people have died and thousands are still stranded.

Seen here, a batch of pilgrims is brought to safety in Joshimath on June 21.



The rescue operations in the area is a big challenge for the Army as the terrain is extremely inhospitable, and is totally cut off. There are no roads connecting the area and it is very difficult for choppers to land, says the Army.

Pilgrims get down from an Mi-17 chopper in Gauri Kund.

India flood and landslide death toll

nears 600 as army steps up


Some 50,000 Hindu pilgrims still stranded in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand with 34,000 rescued so far, home minister says


An Indian boy rescued from flood-hit Uttarakhand waits before going to Dehradun relief camps

An Indian boy rescued from flood-hit areas of Uttarakhand waits with others before being sent to relief camps in Dehradun. Photograph: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty


The death toll from monsoon flooding and landslides in mountainous northern India rose to nearly 600 on Friday with rescuers finding bodies in the Ganges and in the muddy, broken earth, officials said.

The air force dropped paratroopers, food and medicine for people trapped in up to 100 towns and villages cut off since Sunday in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand where thousands of people are stranded, many of them Hindu pilgrims who were visiting four shrines in the area.

The Uttarakhand state chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna, told CNN-IBN television channel on Friday that 556 bodies had been seen buried deep in mud and the army was trying to recover them. Rescuers also found 40 bodies floating in the Ganges near the pilgrimage site of Haridwar, said Rajiv Swaroop, a police officer.

Rakesh Sharma, another state official, said on Thursday that the death toll might reach the thousands, but the exact figure would not be known until the entire region had been checked.

Sushilkumar Shinde, the federal home minister, told reporters in Delhi that 34,000 people had been evacuated so far and 50,000 more were stranded in the region. Roads and bridges were washed away by the floods or blocked by debris.

A spokesman for Uttarakhand, Amit Chandola, said the rescue operation was centred on evacuating nearly 27,000 people trapped in the worst-hit Kedarnath temple area, one of the holiest Hindu sites dedicated to the god Shiva, located high in the Garhwal Himalayan range. The temple escaped major damage, but debris covered the area around it and television images showed the bodies of pilgrims strewn around the area.

Soldiers and other workers reopened dozens of roads by building makeshift bridges, accelerating the evacuation, Chandola said. More than 2,000 vehicles carrying stranded Hindu pilgrims had moved out of the area since late on Thursday and thousands of soldiers were continuing efforts to reach the worst-hit towns and villages, he said.

Thirty-six air force helicopters have been ferrying rescue workers, doctors, equipment, food and medicine to Kedarnath, the town closest to many of those stranded, said Priya Joshi, an air force spokeswoman. Seven aircraft carried paratroopers and fuel to the region.

Hundreds of people looking for relatives demonstrated in Dehradun, the Uttarakhand state capital, where flood survivors were taken by helicopter. They complained the government was taking too long to evacuate the survivors, with helicopters bringing in four to five people at a time.

Jasveer Kaur, a 50-year-old housewife, said she and her family survived by taking shelter in a Sikh shrine, which withstood the flood, located in Govind Dham.

"There was destruction all around," said Kaur after she was evacuated by an air force helicopter. "It was a nightmare."

Google has launched an application, Person Finder, to help trace missing people in Uttarakhand. The version is available in both Hindi and English versions.

The annual monsoon rains sustain India's agriculture but also cause flooding that claims hune numbers of lives and damages property. The neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state said 17 flood-related deaths had occurred there since the heavy rains on Sunday.


Indian floods: thousands evacuated,

but deaths toll likely to rise, says



Thousands are evacuated after floods hit the northern Indian sate of Uttarakhand. India's interior minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, says there have been hundreds of confirmed fatalities, but with many still buried under the debris, the death toll could rise further. Rescue operations have centred on evacuating nearly 27,000 people trapped in the worst-hit area, near Kedarnath temple, one of the holiest Hindu shrines to Lord Shiva, atop the Garhwal Himalayan range




The famous Kedarnath shrine was virtually submerged in mud in the devastating flash flood that hit the temple town on June 16. This is the first picture of the shrine since the tragedy struck at this Himalayan pilgrim spot.



Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat, who visited the shrine after the tragedy, said only the sanctum sanctorum with the Shivling in it is intact, and all around the temple is a sight of destruction.


Almost everyone from Kedarnath town - the epicenter of the devastation - has been rescued, Ajay Chaddha, the Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said, adding 17 bodies were recovered from Kedarnath today.

Kedarnath slammed in 15 minutes by

15-feet wall of water


Blog: Kedarnath slammed in 15 minutes by 15-feet wall of water

Kedarnath: Kedarnath is a ghost town today.

As we finally managed to touch down today, just behind the shrine, the sheer devastation of what happened hit us.

As we walk towards the shrine it is almost as if the temple, still standing tall and majestic in the centre, was built on the banks of two streams on either side. But a closer look reveals that these two channels, where the earth has been cut through, were made recently by the surging flood water which came down from the summit behind the shrine. Within 15 minutes, a 15-feet-high wall of water, mixed with silt and boulders, slammed Kedarnath. It split into two streams and gathered pace as it went down the narrow valley.

Almost five days later there is not a living soul in Kedarnath. Only two mongrels and some abandoned horses in the distance.

Despite the magnitude of the disaster, the temple seems intact but as we walk toward the entrance a huddled mass blocks it. A small hand with a bangle sticks out as it becomes apparent that there are several bodies almost in fetal position.

The temple may be intact on the outside but it is clear that water did enter the structure. These unlucky souls may have tried to shelter near the temple.

In parts, sand and silt have completely covered single storey structures. Authorities fear that many may be buried below.

But while the Air Force and private helicopters furiously fly sorties to evacuate Kedarnath, on the short flight up the mountain, we can see hundreds stranded on the narrow walking path from Gaurikund to Kedarnath. These people are in dire situations, stranded in the middle, cut off not only from Kedarnath but also from the base of the mountain.

Several dozen groups on small isolated patches have had to fend for themselves. Helicopters drop food and water but it is simply not enough as it is also difficult to get to the narrow ledges for the helicopters. On the way back I notice a helicopter which crashed today on one of these ledges while trying to rescue those stranded. Thankfully, the pilot walked out and was rescued by an Air Force helicopter. But that's one helicopter less as all involved rush to try and evacuate those who are stranded on the route to Kedarnath. The Met department has warned that there may be rain on Saturday, which could make the situation critical with the threat of fresh landslides

Uttarakhand: 'Will we be evacuated

after we die?' ask those stranded

Uttarakhand: 'Will we be evacuated after we die?' ask those stranded


New DelhiMore than 550 people have died in Uttarakhand after the state was ravaged by floods triggered by torrential rains. Reports say 50,000 people are still stranded and rescue operations are on in full swing to bring those people to safety.

But for those who are stuck in the worst affected areas of the state, it has been a desperate situation. Many climbed nearby hills and stayed there for days without food or water.

"We have been stuck in Gaurikund since 7 days. There were 13 of us initially, now only three are left. We don't know of the whereabouts of the other 10 people. We don't have anything to eat here, we are not getting water to drink," said a woman.


Angry and frustrated people are blaming the government. "Will the government evacuate us after we die? The authorities are not listening to us or helping us. We are all helpless here, we have nothing to eat or drink," said one of the women stranded in Badrinath.

The Meteorological Department has forecast heavy rain from June 25. The inclement weather could make the task for the rescue workers much tougher.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) says the next two days are crucial and all agencies on the ground will maximise their efforts in the rescue and relief operations.

The NDRF has deployed 13 teams comprising 1,000 personnel to carry out rescue operations alongside the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Army contingents.

The road from Rishikesh to Gangotri has been opened, but only up to Uttarkashi.

The road between Uttarkashi and Harsil is still not open to traffic due to landslides at a number of places. This 74 km stretch will be the main point of focus for the Army today.

The ITBP says those stuck in Badrinath and Hemkund are safe, but they've not had any communication with the survivors for the past 2-3 days. The ITBP hopes to evacuate them today. Over 15,000 people have been rescued by the ITBP forces so far.

Uttarakhand: Air Force's massive

C-130J makes maiden landing at

Dharasu, evacuates 113 people



GhaziabadAs rescue and relief operations continue on a war footing in Uttarakhand, the Indian Air Force (IAF) today pressed into service the C-130J, a massive transport aircraft, which brought back to safety 113 people who were rescued in Uttarakhand. Those rescued include 17 foreign nationals, who arrived at the Hindon Air Force base near Ghaziabad, a suburb of Delhi.

Famously known as the "Super" Hercules, the C130-J landed at Dharasu - an advanced landing ground near Uttarkashi - for the first time, which has a landing strip that is only 4,500 feet long. The pilots also had to contend with inclement weather.

The aircraft also replenished fuel supplies, critical choppers that are already in service to help rescue thousands stranded across the state.


The Air Force has committed three C130-Js to its "Operation Rahat" in Uttarakhand - the ongoing rescue and relief work in the rain-ravaged state is the biggest ever undertaken by the armed forces.

While the second C130-J has flown to Dharasu with more fuel, the third will transport medical supplies.

The Army and Air Force have deployed over 50 helicopters for rescue efforts, but a shortage of fuel has been a point of major concern. The C130-J is bound to augment those operations.


Uttarakhand: Helicopter operations suspended due to bad weather; 22,000 still stranded

Helicopter operations have been suspended due to intermittent rains and thick fog over Kedarnath, Badrinath, Dehradun and Rishikesh.

The Met department has already predicted heavy showers from June 25 onwards, prompting Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to set a three-day deadline on Saturday for completion of rescue work.

The National Disaster Response Force will use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) today to locate survivors in remote areas that still remain inaccessible. Over 500 are still stuck in the dangerous terrain of Jungle Chatti, in mountains between Gaurikund and Rambara in Kedarnath, which the government has dubbed a point of concern.

    500 sorties are also expected to be conducted today, weather permitting, to bring back to safety those stranded. While 8,000 pilgrims are awaiting help in the holy town of Badrinath, 1,000 more are stuck in Pithorgarh. Nearly 100 others are stranded at Hemkund Sahib. 900 people also are likely to be evacuated from Barkot today.

    Rescuers in Kedarnath - one of the worst-hit - are hopeful of evacuating an estimated 500 people stranded en route to the temple town. 123 bodies have already been recovered by NDRF teams from the Kedarnath temple complex.

    Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, on Saturday, said that the casualty figures are certainly far higher and could easily touch the one thousand mark.

    A medical camp has been set up at Guptkashi in Rudrapayag district which also witnessed massive destruction. Road links have also been established to several areas.

    Over 60 helicopters of the Army and Air Force have been pressed into service in what is being considered as the biggest rescue operation launched by the armed forces. Around 10,000 army and paramilitary troops, members of the country's disaster management agency and volunteers are involved in the rescue and relief efforts.

    Many survivors - desperate for food and water - have complained that they were robbed, cheated and exploited.

    Distraught relatives clutching photographs of missing family members have been waiting for days outside the airport at Dehradun, the state capital, hoping for news of their loved ones.

States » Uttarakhand


Uttarakhand, formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the "Land of the Gods" due to the many holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is mainly known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai. On 9 November 1999, this 27th state of the Republic of India was carved out of the Himalayan and adjoining northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh. It borders the Tibet Autonomous Region on the north; the Mahakali Zone of the Far-Western Region, Nepal on the east; and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the northwest. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, the largest city in the region, which is a railhead. The high court of the state is in Nainital.

Archaeological evidence support the existence of humans in the region since prehistoric times. Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century BCE who practised an early form of Shaivism. Ashokan edicts at Kalsi show the early presence of Buddhism in this region. During the medieval period the region was consolidated under the Kumaon and Garhwal kingdom. By 1803 the region fell to the Gurkha Empire of Nepal and with the conclusion of the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1816 most of modern Uttarakhand was ceded to the British as part of the Treaty of Sugauli. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon were traditional rivals, the proximity of different neighbouring ethnic groups and the inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two regions which further strengthened during the movement for statehood in the 1990s.

The natives of the state are generally called either Garhwali or Kumaoni depending on their place of origin. According to the 2011 census of India, Uttarakhand has a population of 10,116,752, making it the 19th most populous state in India. A large portion of the population consists of Rajputs and Brahmins. More than 88% of the population follow Hinduism. Muslims are the largest minority in the state with Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Jains being the other major religions. Garhwali and Kumaoni are the two main regional languages, whereas Hindi is the most widely spoken language.

Two of the most important rivers in Hinduism originate in the region, the Ganga at Gangotri and the Yamuna at Yamunotri. These two along with Badrinath and Kedarnath form the Chota Char Dham, a holy pilgrimage for the Hindus. The state hosts the Bengal tiger in Jim Corbett National Park, the oldest national park of the Indian subcontinent. The Valley of Flowers, a Unesco World Heritage Site located here, is known for the variety and rarity of the flowers and plants found there.


Recently on June 17, 2013 a cloudburst was reported in Kedarnath and Rampada region of this state where 550 were killed till date and more are anticipated. Plenty of people are still missing. The state has had no disaster management plan worth its name despite the region being highly disaster prone due to fragile mountains, tectonic activity and climatic events.





Rain and landslides hit rescue ops in




Nearly 15,000 people remain stranded in Uttarakhand; the return of bad weather is impeding rescue operations. Helicopters have not been able to fly this morning, and landslides late on Sunday night have blocked major routes that were being used to evacuate people by foot.


Flood Toll Reaches 1,000 in India as

Thousands More Await Rescue


Soldiers tried to repair a footbridge over the Alaknanda River in mountainous Uttarakhand State during resue work on Saturday.

NEW DELHI — Flash floods and landslides in northern India have killed at least 1,000 people in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in the past week, an official said Saturday, and with thousands missing or stranded the toll was expected to rise.


The official, Vijay Bahuguna, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, confirmed the latest toll in a meeting with reporters. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told the Indian news media on Saturday that 40,000 people were still stranded, and he described the floods as a “national crisis.”

Most of the stranded were people on a pilgrimage known as Char Dham Yatra, which takes Hindus to four of the holiest shrines in Uttarakhand between May and November.

To aid rescue efforts in narrow mountainous valleys at altitudes as high as 11,000 feet above sea level, members of the Indian military have been pressed into service. By Saturday, the rivers and streams that run through the state had receded, but the floods had destroyed roads, bridges, electrical poles and communication networks.

More than 40 helicopters were being used to rescue pilgrims from remote mountainous areas, according to Indian officials, but the terrain hampered the operations. A rescue helicopter crashed Friday while trying to evacuate pilgrims trapped in a village near Kedarnath in Uttarakhand. The pilot was injured and was being treated at a hospital, police officials told the news agency Press Trust of India.

Families throughout India were frantically trying to track down their missing relatives.

“Four of my friends, who are priests, are missing,” said Naresh Kukreti, 34, a priest at the Kedarnath temple, one of the holiest shrines of Hinduism. “We don’t know whether they are alive or dead.”

Mr. Kukreti said Saturday that after the ritual evening prayer last Sunday, he had been filled with unease. “It had been raining for two days, and fewer pilgrims were visiting the temple,” he said. “I had a strange feeling something terrible was about to happen.”

After prayers, Mr. Kukreti retired to his modest quarters. “Suddenly a deafening noise shook everything,” he said. “It felt like an earthquake.”

Mr. Kukreti and about 800 pilgrims sought refuge in the stone temple, which was built in the eighth century 11,759 feet above sea level and dedicated to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

“Within minutes, a river of black water and big stones followed us into the temple,” he said by phone after returning to his home village, Tailagram, in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand.

The temple survived the assault, but when the water receded after a cold night of prayer, Mr. Kukreti found himself standing among piles of dead pilgrims. “Everywhere I looked I saw dead men, women and children,” he said.

Most of the buildings around the temple were destroyed, and the town of Kedarnath, which has grown around the temple, was submerged. After braving cold, hunger and grief for three days inside the temple, Mr. Kukreti and about 400 pilgrims hiked a few miles to an emergency landing pad, and rescue helicopters flew them to a relief camp.

Google has developed a Person Finder application for the Uttarakhand area, and the state government has created a message board on its Web site, where relatives of missing pilgrims are posting their phone numbers and names, and the last locations and pictures of their missing relatives. In a message on the Uttarakhand government bulletin board, Rajneesh, an anxious relative, who uses only one name, said he was looking for his missing brother and sister-in-law and their two children named Honey and Money.

The Himalayan pilgrimage centers have been straining to cope with the disaster. In the past two decades, religious expression has increased in India along with economic growth, and the number of pilgrims visiting religious sites has greatly increased. According to official statistics, 30 million tourists visited Uttarakhand in 2010, up from 10 million in 2001, according to official statistics.

“It is an ecologically fragile region and the Himalayas are young mountains, but there is haphazard construction to serve increasing numbers of tourists and pilgrims,” said Ashish Kothari, an Indian environmentalist and a co-author of “Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India.” “All sorts of hydroelectric projects are coming up in these areas, and anything goes in the name of environment assessment.”

The rescuers are racing against time; the Indian Meteorological Department predicted more rain in northern India starting Monday.

Around 73,000 pilgrims have been evacuated, according to Indian officials. In an interview with a television network, Mr. Bahuguna, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, said it might take about two weeks to evacuate all stranded pilgrims and find the missing.

Mr. Kukreti, the priest, said many people “were so scared” that they “ran into forests to save themselves.”

“I worry how any helicopters can reach those who are in narrow valleys or jungles,” he said. “They might die of hunger before the government reaches them.”

Hari Kumar and Malavika Vyawahare contributed reporting.

Rain and landslides hit rescue ops in





There have been two major landslides reported near Rudraprayag, serving as a major base camp for rescue operations, which have blocked a main road that is being used to carry relief supplies. Bulldozers have been deployed to clear the road.

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