Rain continues to lash Uttarakhand, nine killed

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State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel during a rescue and relief operation after vehicles were hit by falling debris after rain-triggered landslide on Uttarkashi-Gangotri highway, in Uttarkashi district, Tuesday, July 11

State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel during a rescue and relief operation after vehicles were hit by falling debris after rain-triggered landslide on Uttarkashi-Gangotri highway, in Uttarkashi district, Tuesday, July 11

Dehradun: Rain continued at several places in Uttarakhand on Tuesday even as nine pilgrims were killed and 13 others injured in landslides and due to boulders falling from mountains in the past 24 hours.

Incessant rain nearly crippled the state infrastructure with several routes, including national highways, were closed due to frequent landslides, affecting the 'Char Dham yatra' currently underway.

The Met Department has forecast heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday and asked the state administration to take adequate precautions.

Ganga, Yamuna and all other rivers are in spate due to incessant rains, and bridges have also been washed away in some places.

A bridge on the Joshimath-Malari road connecting Niti Valley has washed away due to floods in the Jummagad rainy river, cutting off communication with about a dozen villages.

At least three houses were washed away due to rise in the water level of Kali river in Ranthi village of Dharchula area in Pithoragarh district. However, none of the houses had people living in it.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has urged pilgrims and tourists to avoid unnecessary travel till the rain lasts.

Three to four thousand passengers are stuck between Gangotri and Gangnani due to the blockade of the Gangotri Highway, and arrangements are being made to bring them back by the Uttarkashi district administration.

Four people, including three pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh, were killed and seven others injured when three passenger vehicles came under the debris of a landslide that occurred during heavy rain late Monday evening at Gangnani in the Bhatwadi area of Uttarkashi district.

Bhatwadi Deputy Collector Chatar Singh Chauhan said that after the bridge collapsed Monday night, teams from police and the State Disaster Response Force reached the spot and started the rescue operations.

Chauhan said three of the four people who died on the spot were from Madhya Pradesh. They were identified as Pushpa Chauhan, 65, from Bhopal, and Anshul Mandloi and Yogendra Solanki, both aged 23 and residents of Dewas.

Fifty-year-old Ravi Baghel, the driver of one of the vehicles, was the fourth casualty. He was from Haryana.

According to Chauhan, of the seven people injured in the incident, the condition of two was stated to be serious. Shobha, 76, a resident of Indore, was airlifted to Rishikesh AIIMS via helicopter for better treatment.

The Deputy Collector said the rescue was hamstrung due to incessant rains and the falling of debris and stones from hills.

District Disaster Management Officer Devendra Patwal said that 31 pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh were returning after visiting Gangotri Dham when they came under the falling debris.

In another incident, 34-year-old Balbir Sharma, a pilgrim from Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Budh Nagar, died Monday night when his motorcycle was hit by a falling boulder in Byungad on the Rudraprayag-Gaurikund National Highway in Rudraprayag district. His twin brother Mahavir Sharma too was injured in the incident.

In Kalsi area of Dehradun district, a vehicle fell from a mountain on Haripur-Koti-Ichhadi road Tuesday morning, killing three persons travelling in it and injuring three others. In another incident in Jeoli in Almora district's Ranikhet, a teacher was killed and two others injured when a car fell into a gorge due to rain.

The Gangotri and the Yamunotri national highways are blocked at about half a dozen places due to landslides with 3,000-5,000 passengers currently stranded along these stretches.

Uttarkashi District Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela said the administration is making efforts to bring back people, some of whom are kanwariyas, stuck between Gangotri and Gangnani. He said that due to the blockade, people have been barred from going towards Gangotri.

Rudraprayag Superintendent of Police Dr Vishakha Ashok Bhadane has appealed to the pilgrims coming to Kedarnath not to make unnecessary travel in view of landslides and boulders falling from the mountains.

Bhadane also urged the people to keep their distance from the Rudraprayag Sangam in view of the rising water level.

Dhami on Tuesday made a visit to the rain-affected areas in Dehradun amid rain and directed the District Magistrate to investigate the reasons for waterlogging on the ISBT road and other places. "I request all the people to avoid unnecessary travel during heavy rains," he had earlier said.

In its latest forecast, the Meteorological Department has issued a 'red alert' in view of rain for July 11 and 12, and an 'orange alert' for July 13 to 15.

In view of the rain alerts, several districts of Uttarakhand, including Pauri and Champawat, have declared school holiday.