New Delhi: The early monsoon that hit North India is continuing to wreak havoc with Uttarakhand being the worst-hit state. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna called the calamity a Himalayan tsunami which has seen several rivers overflow their banks and wash away town, villages and roads leading to the death of several people. Many more are injured and several thousands are still missing.
While Bahuguna claimed that Kedarnath has been cleared completely but and Indian Air Force Air Commodore said that only the temple premise was cleared and people from adjoining areas were still coming down with at least 4000 stranded on Thursday. "Kedarnath has not been cleared. We have a lot to do. Initial reports suggest 4,000 people in grief there. NDRF, ITBP and army troops have been sent in to clear the area and move them into safer places from where helicopters can airlift them," said the Air Commodore.
Ten rescue aircraft are stranded at Jolly Grant airport while 10 others are waiting at Sarsawa Air Force Station in Sharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. At 6.45 am on Thursday a few attempts were made by 5 aircraft to reach the some of the worst affected areas, but the planes had to come back because of bad weather.
The three main affected valleys are Haasil, Kedarnath (worst affected) and Badrinath which the situation is also bad but not very grim. The main focus is on Kedarnath valley where according to estimates thousands of people are still stranded. The administration is trying to send in relief supplies to the affected people.
The rescue efforts have been slow on Thursday because of bad weather, but will catch up as soon as the situation improves. The planes and helicopters will keep flying till late evening. While doctors and medical supplies have been sent off to most areas, the focus is now on bring out the people stranded in Kedarnath.
"The IAF has been landing in Kedarnath day in and day out, but the problem lies in the narrow valley between Guptkashi and Kedarnath. Wherever we can't land, we are dropping troops, supplies," the IAF officer said.
"Till yesterday we had completely cleared the Kedarnath temple area, but hundreds of people are coming down from adjoining areas. The problem is neither they can come together nor go to Guptkashi. Those are high altitudes where aircraft performance is affected. We are doing hundreds of sorties, critical cases will be done today and over next two-three days and to ensure no one dies of hunger and thirst," he added.