Uttarakhand flood toll rises to 52, rain fury in UP, north Bengal and Sikkim
Six more bodies were recovered on Wednesday in rain-battered Uttarakhand, taking the death toll to 52 in the Himalayan state.
Six more bodies were recovered on Wednesday in rain-battered Uttarakhand, taking the death toll to 52 in the Himalayan state, while Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, and areas of north Bengal were also pounded by torrential rainfall that caused landslides and led to closure of National Highway 10, the main road linking Gangtok with the rest of the country.
Three people were killed and hundreds marooned as heavy rains lashed Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly and Pilibhit districts over the last two days.
In Uttarakhand, 17 people were injured and five went missing in rain-related incidents. The official count of missing people does not include a trekking team of 11, who left Uttarkashi but did not reach their destination Chitkul in Himachal Pradesh, and three porters who went missing while accompanying an ITBP patrol near the India-China border.
The Kumaon region of the state, which has been worst affected by the rainfall, also reported cases of 46 houses being damaged.
With 28 deaths, Nainital alone has accounted for the highest number of fatalities.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami extended his tour of the affected areas of Udham Singh Nagar and Champawat districts in Kumaon to take stock of the situation. He travelled by road as his helicopter could not take off from Haldwani due to technical reasons.
Accompanied by Union Minister of State for Defence and Nainital MP Ajay Bhatt and State Disaster Management Minister Dhan Singh Rawat, Dhami, on board a tractor, crossed vast stretches of marooned fields in Udham Singh Nagar district and assessed the damage to crops. He also trudged through the streets of Champawat to get a first-hand assessment of the damage inflicted by nearly three days of incessant rains.
Home Minister Amit Shah is also likely to arrive in the state late on Wednesday night to review the situation. He may also undertake an aerial survey of the affected areas on Thursday morning, officials said.
The weather cleared across Uttarakhand on Wednesday, giving momentum to rescue operations and leading to the partial resumption of the Chardham Yatra, with pilgrims allowed to proceed to Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri. However, the yatra to Badrinath could not be resumed as the national highway leading to the temple was blocked by landslide at several points.
Water has receded completely from the streets of Nainital, which was cut off from the rest of the state on Monday, with the Naini lake flooding the roads and landslides choking them at various points. Life returned to normal in Nainital on Wednesday morning as tourists were found shopping and taxis plying through the town.
Electricity and telephone connectivity which had been badly hit in Nainital by incessant rains has been restored. Villages on the outskirts of the town are still going without electricity and telephone connectivity. Haldwani and Kaladhungi roads have been opened partially to traffic restoring connectivity to Nainital.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said it has rescued over 1,300 people from flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand. The federal force has deployed 17 rescue teams in the state.
Torrential rains pounded the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim and the tea growing region of North Bengal, causing landslides which cut off National Highway-10.
Normal life in parts of north Bengal was affected due to heavy showers in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri districts that triggered landslides, causing damages to roads and bridges, halting or constricting traffic in various places.
As the downpour continued, 3,800 cusec waster was released from Bengal's Gajaoldoba Teesta Barrage, causing inundation in several parts of the low lying town of Jalpaiguri. Water from the overflowing Teesta also submerged National Highway 10 that connects Siliguri with Sikkim's capital Gangtok at Teesta Bazar area, restricting traffic.
The Meteorological Department issued a 'red' alert for Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Alipurduar, forecasting "extremely heavy rain at one or two places" in these districts till Thursday morning. Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rain during the period, it said.
Several low-lying areas in Jalpaiguri district have been flooded owing to a rise in the water level of Teesta and Jaldhaka rivers. People from these areas were being moved to safe places for shelter.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Wednesday visited the flood-affected areas in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur and distributed relief material among the people.
Instead of an aerial survey, Naqvi undertook a ground survey and even got on a boat to reach far-flung areas inundated due to the massive rains that have wreaked havoc in adjoining Uttarakhand.
In Uttar Pradesh, around 500 villagers in Pilibhit are trapped in the flood water of the Sharda river. A couple in Bareilly's Faridpur township and a nine-year-old boy in Ram Nagar area were killed after their houses collapsed because of heavy rains.
The IMD, which had sounded an orange alert (heavy to very heavy rain) for 11 districts of Kerela on Wednesday withdrew it and changed it to yellow predicting 'moderate rain' in these areas.