Rescue of old, women top priority in Uttarakhand: Shinde

Dehardun, June 28 (IANS) Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Friday said the evacuation of old people, women and children stranded in Badrinath in Uttarakhand was the top priority of the teams involved in rescue efforts.

"There are people still stranded in Badrinath. Our priority is to rescue elderly people, women and children and then get the youth and others out of there," Shinde said.

The home minister added that the rescue efforts would be on in the rain-ravaged state for another 15 days.

"We are operating 17 helicopters to evacuate the stranded people. The Indian Air Force helicopters will stay in the state for 15 more days to finish the rescue and relief work," he said.

He also lauded the coordination between various agencies involved in rescue and relief operations.

"There is an excellent coordination between the (rescue) teams working in Uttarakhand. There were some problems in the initial few days, but after June 21 the work went on in full swing," Shinde said.

He said there was no clarity as to how many bodies are still buried in the debris caused by flash-floods and landslides in the hill state.

The incessant and intense rains that hit Uttarakhand over three days from June 14, causing flash floods and landslides, have led to hundreds of deaths, while many are missing. There were thousands of pilgrims in Badrinath and Kedarnath areas when the tragedy struck the region.

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