163 people rescued from flooded areas in Uttarakhand, Himachal

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) A total of 163 people were rescued Tuesday from flood-affected areas caused by torrential rains in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, disaster management officials said.

While 71 people were rescued in Uttarakhand, National Disaster Management Authority's (NDMA) teams rescued 86 people in Haryana and five in Uttar Pradesh, an NDMA official said.

Twenty-six teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal and Assam for relief operations, said the NDMA.

"The weather was better today (Tuesday). 10 Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters were pressed into rescue operations to evacuate stranded pilgrims in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. We are likely to get more private choppers for the rescue operations based on the weather conditions," NDMA vice president M. Shashidhar Reddy told IANS.

He added that NDRF officials would be setting up a base camp in Gaurikund, 14 km from Kedarnath in Uttarakhand.

"Over 50,000 pilgrims are stranded in Uttarakhand. We are making all efforts to continuously enhance the operations to rescue as many people as we can," said Shashidhar Reddy.

The rains, which began Saturday night, lashed Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the fourth consecutive day Tuesday, taking the death toll to 58 and leaving over 58,000 stranded.

While 40 people perished in the torrential downpour in Uttarakhand, 18 others died in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

The met department predicted more rains over the next two days in northern India.

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has been stopped for now.

--Indo-Asia News Service

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