Rescue operations on in Uttarakhand, Himachal

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Rescue operations are on in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to evacuate stranded people as the weather improved Tuesday, a disaster management official said.

“The weather was better today (Tuesday). Ten Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters were pressed into rescue operations to evacuate stranded pilgrims in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. We are likely to get more private choppers for the rescue operations based on the weather conditions,” M. Shashidhar Reddy, vice president of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), told IANS.

He also said that National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials would be setting up a base camp in Gaurikund, 14 km from Kedarnath.

“Over 50,000 pilgrims are stranded in Uttarakhand. We are making all efforts to continuously enhance the operations to rescue as many people as we can,” Reddy said.

The rains, which began Saturday night, lashed Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for the fourth consecutive day Tuesday, taking the death toll to 58 and leaving over 58,000 stranded.

While 40 people perished in the torrential downpour in Uttarakhand, 18 others died in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

The met department predicted more rains over the next two days in northern India.

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has been stopped for now.

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