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Helicopters deployed to rescue stranded people in Uttarakhand

Dehradun/Lakhimpur, June 20 : Helicopters have been deployed to airlift the stranded people in areas devastated by the raging floods in Uttarakhand.


Air force helicopters airdropped commandos to help rescue the people unable to move because of the floods.

K C Dutt, a pilot participating in the rescue operation, said today that the inclement weather disrupted the rescue operations.

"Right now in Kovindha, there are about 3000 travellers. So, we will try to rescue the old people and the women first and bring them to Joshimath and if they face any problem there then we will bring them to Dehradun to Shastra Dhara and they can travel on road from there," he told the media in Dehradun.

A. K Singh, Junior Commissioned Officer in the Indian Army, said that the army was attempting to provide medical aid and food to the people who faced the brunt of nature's fury.

"We are trying to provide medicine and relief for all those who are stranded and army personnel are also involved in relief efforts. The army has deployed around 75 people over here and we are also providing them with food packages," he said.

Meanwhile, villages in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh were also flooded by river water while the people waited to be rescued.

The authorities used army helicopters as the rising water level of the river made it difficult for them to carry out the rescue operations.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Prashant Kumar said yesterday they used whatever resources they had to rescue the people stranded in the flood-affected areas.

"The rescue operation has been going on since last night and in this rescue we have deployed whatever means we had and the PSE flood companies have come and rescued 86 people till now," Kumar told the media in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur district.

"Because the water level was increasing and there was also soil erosion, so we used helicopters provided by the army and rescued several people," he added.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna yesterday said he was not in a position to give the exact estimate of unprecedented death and destruction in the state.

"It will take months to improve the situation in Uttarakhand. Our main concern is that the tourists should be safe. Phone calls are coming in from all over the country. Many state chiefs have come forth with help and I thank them for that," said Bahuguna.

"The main problem here is that since the roads and the bridges are damaged, how will the people be rescued? Now the helicopter is the only medium. More than 20 choppers are there. They are from the Air Force, our personal (government) ones and some brought on lease," he added.

Bahuguna said the first priority is to rescue the stranded people especially those on pilgrimage from various parts of the country, distribution of medicines and rehabilitation and compensation for the affected.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh yesterday along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi made an aerial survey of the worst-hit areas in the state.

Expressing serious concern over the entire incident, Dr. Singh also announced 1,000 crore rupee disaster flood relief for the state where flash floods have claimed over a hundred lives and left thousands of pilgrims to Himalayan shrines stranded.

The Uttarakhand Government has set up helpline numbers at Dehradun to provide information about flood-hit areas and people. The helpline numbers are 0135-2717300, 2716201, 2710925, 09411112985 and 09412054085. The Uttarakhand Government has also put up the names of people rescued from flood-hit areas on the state Police website www.uttarakhandpolice.uk.gov.in.

--ANI (Posted on 20-06-2013)

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