Chandigarh, June 27 (IANS) Over 8,000 pilgrims from Punjab, most of whom had gone to the Sikh shrine of Hemkund Sahib, have been rescued from calamity-hit Uttarakhand, officials said here Thursday.
"Over 500 pilgrims left Rishikesh today (Thursday) for Punjab. They left by buses of Punjab Police, Punjab Roadways and other hired vehicles. The total number of pilgrims so far evacuated from different parts of Uttarakhand would touch 8,000," a state government spokesman said.
The Punjab government Thursday sent a special rescue team headed by Adapa Karthik to Badrinath to evacuate over 350 Punjab residents who are among the 2,500 pilgrims stranded there.
Reports said the 15,200-feet high Hemkund Sahib shrine has been shut down due to inclement weather in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand.
Karthik said that sick pilgrims were being evacuated from Badrinath on priority.
"Weather permitting, we are planning to complete the evacuation operation by Friday or Saturday evening. Heavy rains and bad weather in afternoon halted the rescue operations," he said.
He said that rescue teams from Punjab had evacuated pilgrims from Hemkund Sahib, Gobind Dham, Gobind Ghat, Nagrasu and other hilly areas. They were being brought to base camps set up in Joshimath and Rishikesh.