NDMA team to trace survivors under debris

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Tuesday declared Uttarakhand devastation a "severe natural disaster" and requested leaders not to politicise the issue. The authority would also send a team to trace survivors under the debris.

NDMA Vice Chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy said members of parliament from all states could each contribute Rs.50 lakh from their funds for the relief work.

"Despite doing politics over the calamity, all the leaders and MPs should contribute as they can donate Rs.50 lakh from their funds in a national level disaster," said Reddy.

According to Reddy, most areas of Kedarnath and Uttar Kashi have been fully evacuated while the rescue operation was still on in Badrinath and Harsil.

"Around 5,000 tourists and 1,000 locals are still stranded in Badrinath and Harsil area," said Reddy.

Reddy said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has so far rescued around 6,000 people, including around 120 stranded from Sukhi Top and Harsil area.

A total of 1,000 people were rescued by airlift while 2,000 were evacuated by road Tuesday, said Reddy.

"It is feared that more bodies are under the debris while NDRF recovered around 125 bodies till Monday," Reddy said at a news conference.

He said at a meeting held Tuesday morning on the Uttarakhand situation, chaired by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, it was asked if the NDRF could detect victims buried under the debris.

For this purpose, it was decided to send a five-member team to the hill state. "We have instruments to detect humans who are alive, by their heartbeat...," Reddy added.

He said when the NDRF went to Japan to help with the 2011 earthquake-tsunami rescue, they were able to find a lot of victims under the debris. "So they may be able to attempt" a similar thing in Uttarakhand, the official added.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the heavy rains and floods that hit Uttarakhand, especially the temple town of Kedarnath, over 10 days ago. Thousands of stranded people, including pilgrims, have been rescued from the area.

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