271 pilgrims return to Andhra by three special aircraft

Hyderabad, June 27 (IANS) Three special aircraft arranged -- one by Andhra Pradesh government and two by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) -- brought 271 pilgrims from Dehra Dun Wednesday night.

While 221 passengers reached Hyderabad by two aircrafts, another 50 landed in Visakhapatnam.

The aircraft hired by the state government brought 116 pilgrims to Hyderabad while the aircraft arranged by the TDP brought another 105 survivors from Uttarakhand.

Emotional scenes were witnessed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here as the pilgrims cried on seeing their relatives. Every survivor had a State government official and leader of ruling Congress party receiveing the pilgrim who arrived in the aircraft arranged by the government.

TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu's son N. Lokesh rpt Naidu's son Lokesh received the pilgrims who came by another plane.

Naidu is still in Dehra Dun and has decided to stay there till all the rescued pilgrims from the state are sent back.

The TDP has so far operated three special aircrafts. The first aircraft with 196 pilgrims landed here from New Delhi late Monday night.

The MPs belonging to Congress and TDP came to blows at Dehra Dun airport Wednesday evening. The TDP leaders alleged that Congress MP Hanumantha Rao rushed menacingly towards them when they were helping the pilgrims board the aircraft arranged by their party.

State minister Uttam Kumar Reddy also had a heated argument with TDP leaders, accusing them of politicising a tragedy. The TDP leaders said they were arranging the aircrafts as the government failed to come to the pilgrims' rescue.

Meanwhile, the officials said whereabouts of 284 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh who had gone to Uttarakhand for Char Dham yatra were still not known.

The missing people include 153 pilgrims from Hyderabad and 68 from neighbouring district of Ranga Reddy. The remaining pilgrims are from eight other districts.

Fourteen pilgrims are so far confirmed dead in the floods.

Out of 2,616 pilgrims who had gone to the hill state for the yatra, 1,239 have so far returned home safely while another 933 are on way to their destinations. There are some pilgrims staying at Andra Pradesh Bhavan, the

state government's office in New Delhi.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is in Delhi, reviewed the rescue and relief measures with ministers Sridhar Babu and Uttam Kumar Reddy and senior officials.

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