Rescue in Badrinath depends on weather, says army chief

Dehradun, June 28 (IANS) A few pilgrims are still stranded in Badrinath in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand and their evacuation would depend on the weather conditions, army chief General Bikram Singh said Friday.

“We are getting information that some survivors are still stranded in north Badrinath. Yesterday (Thursday) we had sent some sorties but the rescue teams were unable to locate them. The time for their (pilgrims’) evacuation cannot be specified as it depends on the weather,” the army chief told reporters after arriving at the Gauchar air base in Chamoli district.

“We will get all the citizens out wherever they are,” Gen. Singh said.

He lauded the efforts of troopers from various forces involved in relief and rescue efforts.

“It was a very difficult operation. What needs to be appreciated is how all agencies worked in unison to save lives,” the army chief said, adding that rescue teams had to work in very difficult conditions.

“There was no communication set up. Many places were difficult to reach but they (rescue teams) went to most inaccessible areas to save people,” General Singh said.

“I would like to laud the efforts of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indo-Tibetan Police Force (ITBP) and the Indian Air Force. They have done a great job along with the Indian Army,” he added.

The incessant and intense rains that hit Uttarakhand over three days from June 14, leading to flash floods and landslides, have led to hundreds of deaths, while many more are missing. There were thousands of pilgrims in Badrinath and Kedarnath areas when the tragedy struck.

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