Andhra pilgrims from Uttarakhand start returning home

Hyderabad, June 22 (IANS) Recounting their stories of horror on hills, Char Dham pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh Saturday started returning homes.

About 100 pilgrims reached Vijayawada from New Delhi by Kerala Express while another group of 30 reached Kazipet in Warangal district by New Delhi-Hyderabad AP Express.

It was a tearful reunion of the survivors with their loved ones. The relatives of the pilgrims cried and embraced them as Kerala Express halted at Vijayawada station, about 275 km from here.

The pilgrims recounted the moments of horror when buildings and vehicles were washed awat before their eyes. A woman said she, along with other members of the group, spent five days without food and water near Badrinath.

Thirty pilgrims travelling by AP Express reached Kazipet in Warangal district Saturday evening. Local legislator Vinay Bhaskar of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) provided them water and food.

The special train from Delhi carrying over 500 passengers is likely to reach Kazipet late Saturday night.

Kazipet is a major junction in Warangal district, about 130 km from here. Railway officials the special train would be diverted to Visakhapatnam.

The train with 18 coaches, which left Hazrat Nizamuddin Friday at 9.30 p.m., will be diverted to Visakhapatnam from Kazipet as it was observed that majority of the passengers were bound towards Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, said South Central Railway (SCR).

For the passengers travelling by this special train and bound towards Ongole, Kavali, Nellore and other destination, two extra second class coaches were arranged at Vijayawada.

For those travelling towards Secunderabad/Hyderabad, two second class extra coaches were arranged to transport them from Kazipet to Secunderabad. Senior officers from Secunderabad reached Kazipet to monitor the transshipment of passengers.

Eleven pilgrims from the state were dead while scores of others were missing, according to information reaching their relatives. Over 2,500 pilgrims from various parts of the state had gone to Uttarakhand for the yatra.

About 1,000 of them have so far reached New Delhi and were lodged at AP Bhavan. The railways are making special arrangements to send them back to their destinations.

Meanwhile, union minister of state Balram Naik and two state ministers Sridhar Babu and D. Nagender Saturday reached Rishikesh to monitor the rescue and relief measures for the pilgrims from the state. The ministers had to face the ire of pilgrims when they visited an ashram.

Nagender told reporters that if necessary, the state would deploy a helicopter for rescue and relief operations.

Some injured pilgrims were also admitted to hospitals in Dehradun.


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