Uttarakhand flood: Air rescue operations continue despite overcast sky, low visibility
An overcast sky and low visibility at places today did not come in the way of air rescue operations in rain-hit Uttarakhand even though a thin veil of early morning fog briefly delayed flight of choppers from Sahasradhara helipad and Jollygrant airport.
A Pawan Hans pilot engaged in relief and rescue operations in Gauchar said the weather is okay in Uttarkashi with no major hindrance to air rescue operations. As cremation of decaying bodies recovered from Kedarnath could not be done yesterday due to bad weather, police tried to ensure that the process began today in view of threat of outbreak of an epidemic looming large, officials said.
Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne arrived here this morning on a morale boosting mission a day after 20 IAF, ITBP and NDRF personnel were killed in a chopper crash near Gaurikund in Rudraprayag district. Talking to reporters here before flying to Gauchar to take stock of the situation, Browne said he was here to pep up the morale of personnel engaged in rescue operations following yesterday’s unfortunate incident.
“Though we lost brave personnel of the IAF, ITBP and NDRFi n the chopper crash, it should not dent our determination to carry out the rescue mission successfully. We will ensure that every survivor stranded in Badrinath and Harshil sectors is evacuated,” Browne said. Condoling the death of soldiers on a rescue mission in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said it was a loss for the nation and declared one days’ state mourning today.
He has already announced a compensastion of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased personnel. Bahuguna, who is scheduled to tour the affected areas in Pithoragarh district, said he will go ahead with his programme if the weather improves. Rescuers have evacuated 2,403 stranded pilgrims even as nearly 8,000 persons waited to be evacuated–most of them at Harsil and Badrinath, officials said, as the death toll rose to 822 with 142 bodies being found, including 127 in Kedarnath area, the epicentre of destruction.