Uttarakhand floods: Helicopter operations halted due to bad weather, thousands still stranded

Dehradun, June 23 (ANI): Rescue operations have been hit in Uttarakhand due to bad weather even as 22,000 are still stranded across various parts of the state.

"Helicopters, pilots, food packages everything is ready, but we can't fly because of bad weather," said RC Pathak, Wing Commander.

"We may get a window of opportunity for an hour or two to fly, will try to save as many as possible," he added.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who took stock of the affected areas in Uttarakhand on Saturday, said the Centre will provide all possible help to the Vijay Bahuguna Government for rescue and relief operations in flood and cloud burst affected areas of the hill state.

Shinde further said the evacuations will be completed in one or two days if the rescue operations continue in the same manner.

"Despite bad weather, the Army, NDRF and ITBP are landing and conducting rescue operations. Operations are underway on a war footing," he said, while emphasizing that the men in uniform are trying their best to evacuate those stranded.

The Home Minister said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been ordered to build access roads so that the stranded people can be reached.

Shinde further informed that the government has appointed former Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal as a nodal officer to oversee the relief and rescue operations.

Over 73,000 people have so far been evacuated from the flood and landslide-hit areas of Uttarakhand as rescuers intensified their efforts to help those stranded in different inaccessible parts of the hill state.

The army is reaching out to the civil population by providing food packets, establishing medical camps and deploying its technically endowed manpower, to ensure that the vulnerable bunds are strengthened and breaches are effectively plugged.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed 13 more aircraft for relief and rescue operations. 55 helicopters are being used in what is the military's largest rescue and relief operation ever.

The IAF has also deployed its heavy lift MI-26 helicopters for transporting fuel and heavy equipment required by the BRO to clear roads closed due to landslide.

With the Meteorological Department warning of more rain and storms from Monday, the various agencies on the ground, including the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), are operating with urgency.

Special trains are being run, and additional bogies have been added to existing trains to help the pilgrims reach their destinations.

The Uttarakhand Government has set up control rooms in all districts. These include: State Emergency and Operation Centre - 0135-2710334, 9897890981, 9152443853; Rudraprayag - 01364-233727, 9412914875 and 8859504022; Nainital - 05942-231179, 9456714092 and Dehradun - 0135-2726066, 9412964935. (ANI)


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