22 helicopters involved in rescue work in Uttarakhand: Home ministry

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Twenty-two helicopters have been pressed into service for rescue operations in Uttarakhand, which was ravaged by flash floods and landslides, the union home ministry said Thursday in a statement.

The search, rescue and relief operations are being carried out with the help of choppers from the army, air force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the state government.

A total of 13 teams of NDRF, consisting of 422 personnel along with the necessary paraphernalia, have been deployed for assisting the state government in search and rescue operations.

Though there is no shortage of food material, the department of food and public distribution and ministry of petroleum have been requested to consider an appeal from the state government for 100 tonnes of rice and 60 kilolitres of kerosene at BPL rates, the home ministry statement said.

Essential commodities including food packets are being air dropped, it added.

Giving details of the rescue operations, the statement said 51 persons were rescued by NDRF teams in Uttarakhand Wednesday.

Home secretary R.K. Singh is chairing daily meetings reviewing the situation and the relief and rescue measures being undertaken in the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, it said.

The ministry, quoting the India Meteorological Department (IMD), said the cumulative rainfall of Uttarakhand is reported to be 385.1 mm till now, as against a normal of 71.3 mm. The rainfall in the state is 440 percent in excess of the average for this time of year.

At a meeting of officials Thursday attended by the home secretary, a decision was taken that the ITBP would launch teams based in Pithoragarh and fanning out to other locations, to search for - and provide aid to - stranded villagers and tourists.

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