Dehardun, June 28 (IANS) Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Friday said there was no clarity on how many bodies may be buried under debris in Uttarakhand, and said all efforts would be made to find those missing or trapped.
The home minister said many people continue to be stranded in Badrinath and some other locations. He said the evacuation of old people, women and children stranded in Badrinath in Uttarakhand was the top priority of teams engaged in the rescue effort.
"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 effort 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 (IAF) 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 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.
Shinde assured all help to local people in villages in the region, who have lost homes and livelihoods in the heavy rains and landslides that struck Uttarakhand in the weekend of June 15, leaving hundreds dead. Large chunks of villages and some tall buildings on river banks were swept away as rivers changed course.
Shine paid tributes to the 20 personnel, including five from IAF, nine from the National Disaster Response Force and six from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police who were killed in a helicopter crash June 25, while on a rescue mission.