More than 800 people from Bihar still stranded in Uttarakhand

Patna, June 23 : More than 800 people from Bihar, mostly pilgrims, are still stranded or reported missing in flood-hit Uttarakhand a week after heavy rain, cloudburst and landslides ravaged the hill state, an official manning the emergency control room here said Sunday.

Some 200 people, including former Bihar minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey and his family, have so far returned home after a long struggle from the disaster-hit state, the official said.

"Over 800 people from Bihar are stranded at Badrinath and other places," Chandra Bhushan Pandey, in-charge of the disaster management department's emergency control room here said.

Pandey said the control room had received information of 250 people still missing in just the last 24 hours.

"The real figure of those either stranded or missing may be higher, as people are approaching the control room only after they fail to get information from all other sources," he said.

"The state government has already initiated steps for the early evacuation of the stranded," Pandey said.

Another official of the department, Vipin Kumar Rai, said the state government was setting up a camp at Dehradun to coordinate the rescue of stranded people.

Former minister Choubey, along with his close relatives, a family priest and security personnel, was on a trip to Kedarnath. They had to abandon the onward journey because of landslides and strong currents in the River Ganga.

The minister's personal staff said a close relative of Choubey, Subodh Mishra, and his wife, Rubi Mishra, were among those killed in the landslides.

Choubey and members of his family were airlifted by helicopters.

Thousands are said to be stranded in Uttarakhand after unprecedented rains and cloudbursts led to landslides and flash floods. Over 500 bodies have so far been recovered. A week later, there is as yet no accurate estimate of the number of people who may have died.

--IANS (Posted on 23-06-2013)

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