[Photo: People move furniture as homes floods due to the heavy rains in the northern
state of Uttarakhand.]
New Delhi, (Agencies):
Rains lashed Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday, taking up the toll to 58 and leaving over 58,000 people wet and miserable after they got stranded.
Officials continued with the rescue operations in rain-hit areas as the toll in the two states climbed to 58. While 40 perished in the torrential downpour in Uttarakhand, 18 people died in Saharanpur district of UP.
Harbhajan Singh stuck in Uttarakhand rains Killer rain claims 47 in north, Delhi in disarray 23 die, more than 50 missing in Uttarakhand Sources say more than 58,000 people are stranded at different places on the route of the Chardham Yatra – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath.
The onward trip to Hemkunt Saheb – the sacred pilgrimage for Sikhs – has also been abandoned for now, officials say.
At many places while the gushing rivers have washed away roads and caused land slides, flood waters has entered several villages on banks of the Alaknanda river.
The Ganga is flowing two metres above the danger mark and an alert has been sounded and people have been asked to desist from bathing in the holy river.
Army officials say bases have been made for rescue operations in Bareilly and Sarsawa.
Members of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are however unable to move further from Dehradun owing to inclement weather.
Fourteen choppers of the Indian Army have also been put on standby for rescue operations.
Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna while admitting that the situation was “grave”, said that the government was working swiftly to rescue people stranded at different places and providing relief to the flood effected areas.
The public works department (PWD) of Uttarakhand has confirmed “serious damage” to 450 roads in the state.
Regional Met director of Uttarakhand Anand Sharma said the situation might slightly improve from Tuesday evening onwards as the rains are likely to subside.
Several trains, including Sriganganagar Express, Hemkund Express and Janshatabdi have been cancelled due to flooding of tracks, a railway official said.
Incessant rains in Nainital since Monday has raised the level of the lake by five feet and most tourists were forced to spend their holiday indoors.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Malan and Ganga rivers are in spate in western parts of the state and the army has been called in Mandawar and Rawli areas of Bijnore.
Several houses collapsed in Sardhana area of Meerut while 18 people were killed in Saharanpur in roof collapse and a car was washed away by rain water.
With more rains expected, the situation is likely to worsen in the hill state while flood warnings have been issued in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
Ten deaths, including five members of a family, were reported from Himachal Pradesh while 1,500 tourists, mainly from West Bengal, remained stranded in remote Kinnaur district after incessant rainfall triggered landslides.
Also stranded was chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who was electioneering for the Mandi parliamentary by-poll slated June 23.
In Uttar Pradesh, 15 people were killed in heavy rains and floods in Saharanpur and a flood alert was sounded in several districts as the Ganga, Ghaghra and Sharda are in spate, officials said.
The situation in Uttarakhand led to suspension of the annual Kailash Mansarovar yatra owing to the relentless rains and consequent landslides.
Rescue operations are being carried out in the hill state by the army, para-military Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and disaster management authority.
According to information from state officials, the deaths have been reported from Rambada (13), Gaurikund (2), Harshil (1), Vikas Nagar (4), Dhanaulti (1), Dehradun (3), Chamoli (1), Patal Ganga (1) and three deaths in other places.
Hundreds of pilgrims enroute to the Char Dham Yatra – Badrinath, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Yamunotri- continued to be trapped between landslides and gushing waters of several rivers which are in spate.
Officials informed that more than 5,000 people were stranded in Uttarkashi, 1,000 in Joshimath, 10,000 in Govindghat, more than 10,000 in Badrinath and 6,000 in Ghaghria.
The state government has asked officials to barricade the route before Rishikesh and ask pilgrims and tourists to go back.
The rains, which began Saturday night, have continued for the past three days. The Met department said the rains in the month of June have since broken an 88-year record. Between Saturday and Sunday, Dehra Dun received 220 mm of rains and by evening, another 220 mm of rains.
The worst-hit areas include Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi, where Mandakini river is in spate. In Rambada, the river water entered the market area.
With the met department having forecast more thunder showers, the already grave situation may worsen with more landslides as the hillsides have become weak following incessant rain, said the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
In Himachal, five members of a family, including three children, were buried alive early Monday when boulders fell on their house at Chagaon village near Tapri, some 220 km from Shimla, Superintendent of Police G. Shiva Kumar said over phone.
The entire Kinnaur district has been experiencing heavy rain for the past two days, while Pooh block experienced over one feet of snow, which locals said was untimely.
Shiva Kumar said five other people died in various landslide and rain-related incidents in the district since Sunday.
All the deaths in Uttar Pradesh were in Saharanpur, where many pilgrims are trapped in the Shakumbhari Devi area following the rain and floods.
Among the dead were a chief medical officer from Punjab and his family of five, who drowned after being caught in raging river waters.
Flooding has been reported from Saharanpur, Bijnore, Muzaffarnagar, Gorakhpur, Siddharthanagar, Azamgarh, Lakhimpur Kheri, Ballia and Varanasi.
Delhi saw heavy rains over the weekend and intermittent showers continued Monday morning. The city received 58.5 mm of rain from 8.30 p.m. Sunday to 8.30 a.m. Monday, leaving roads inundated and traffic snarls in the morning rush hour.
In Haryana, rescue teams Monday evacuated 52 villagers, including 15 children, from a riverine island in Yamunanagar district while rescue operations were on in Karnal district where nearly 200 people were stranded in Shergarh Tapu and Chandrao villages.
The Yamuna river, which enters Haryana from Uttarakhand at Hathnikund barrage in Yamunanagar district, had swelled since early Saturday after over 800,000 cusecs of water was released Monday morning through the Hathnikund barrage.
With the water expected to reach Delhi Tuesday, the city government Monday began evacuating people from low-lying areas along the banks of the Yamuna.
The monsoon this year had set over Kerala on schedule June 1 and advanced fast, covering the southern, eastern and central states within two weeks.
(With inputs from IANS)