Rescue operations continue in Uttarakhand

Dehradun: Three days after a cloudburst triggered a flash flood in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district, rescue operations are still underway, officials said on Wednesday.

Inclement weather and tough terrain in Malpa was hampering the operation, they said.   The officials feared the death toll might rise. So far 17 persons have died and more than 30, including a JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer) and five army troopers remain missing.  Rescuers fear that if the missing have been washed away into the Kali river, chances of their survival were “remote”.

Proper rescue operations to locate the missing at Malpa and Ghatiyabagad are yet to take off. The Shashastra Seem Lal (SSB), Indo-Tibetian Border Police (ITBP) are involved in the rescue operations.   The state government has pressed a chopper into service and it is stationed at Pithoragarh.  “As and when the skies are clear, sorties would be made to take the bodies from Malpa,” an official said.

One JCO and and two other soldiers were found in the debris on Monday and hospitalised.   Early on Monday morning there was a cloudburst in Dungdung, followed by another in Malpa, at a height of 7,000 feet on the Kailash Mansarovar route.  This triggered flash floods in the Malpa canal and Nangaad and Thulgaad and the Simkhola river came in to spate, washing way three hotels, an army transit camp, many persons, vehicles and mules.

Six bodies have been recovered so far which have already decomposed. Search for more bodies and survivors, if any, was on, an official told IANS.  In 1998, a similar calamity had struck Malpa on August 17. A cloudburst lead to collapse of an entire hill on this route, killing more than 250 persons, including five dozen Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims, ITBP and police personnel and others.

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