- PM Narendra Modi interacted with Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami
- The SDRF rescued 22 worshippers who were stuck on their way back from the Kedarnath temple
- All schools are closed, and trekking and camping are prohibited
Sixteen people have been killed today as heavy rain drenched Uttarakhand for the third day in a row, leaving officials fearful for the lives of those who may be buried beneath debris, according to news agency PTI.
“Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Shah have been briefed on the situation. Houses, bridges etc. have been damaged and 16 people have died so far. Three (Army) helicopters to be deployed for rescue operations,” the news agency ANI cited Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
The meteorological department has predicted “isolated to scattered” rains across Uttarakhand from today, which will provide some relief in the coming days.
The rains have created scenes of chaos and destruction across the mountainous state, with terrifying images surfacing of flooded and drowned roads and houses, bridges damaged, and rivers overflowing. After three access routes were blocked by landslides, the picturesque Nainital district were blocked.
Among those killed are Nepalese labourers who were living near Lansdowne in Pauri district when they were buried alive by rubble streaming down from a field above, according to PTI.
More people have been killed Monday after a home fell in Champawat district, where an under-construction bridge (over the Chalthi river) washed away owing to rising water levels.
#WATCH | An under construction bridge, over a raging Chalthi River in Champawat, washed away due to rise in the water level caused by incessant rainfall in parts of Uttarakhand. pic.twitter.com/AaLBdClIwe— ANI (@ANI) October 19, 2021
Today, Prime Minister Modi talked with Chief Minister Dhami to assess the situation.
The Army, in addition to state and national disaster response forces, has been summoned to action; Chief Minister Dhami informed PTI that three Army helicopters will assist rescue and relief efforts.
Two would be dispatched to the Nainital region, while the third will be dispatched to Garhwal to assist in the rescue of trapped persons.
Images and videos of the floods that have surfaced on social media depict terrifying scenes.
The famous Nainital Lake has flooded, with images from news agency ANI showing water flowing into neighboring residences and streets this morning. The iconic Mall Road and the Naina Devi shrine on the lake’s banks have been submerged, while landslides have destroyed a nearby hostel.
This morning, a cloudburst over the village of Ramgarh near Nainital wounded a few people.
Another ANI video shows people urgently attempting to warn a motorcycle not to cross a bridge across the Gaula river in Haldwani district, which is beginning to crumble. Two or three people can be seen and heard yelling to warn the two-wheeler driver, who, luckily, recognises the danger and pulls over.
What’s frightening is the bridge’s collapse, which is captured in the same footage. The power of the flooding river causes the fracture in the bridge to grow and progressively tear apart the structure in 50 seconds.
The state’s emergency response teams are also on the ground, and 22 pilgrims were rescued this morning while returning from the Kedarnath shrine.
The operation of vehicles to Himalayan temples has been temporarily stopped as the state fights to retake control. Furthermore, passenger cars are not permitted to cross the Chandrabhaga river bridge or to ford the Tapovan, Lakshman Jhoola, or Muni-ki-Reti Bhadrakali obstacles.
The Badrinath National Highway in Chamoli district has been totally closed due to debris in seven locations as a result of heavy rainfall during the past 48 hours, according to the local administration.
The Badrinath Char Dham Yatra has been paused as a precautionary measure, and pilgrims en way to the Badrinath Temple have been stopped at secure locations.
The Chief Minister has asked pilgrims to postpone their travel till the weather improves.
All schools are still closed, and hiking, mountaineering, and camping activities are prohibited in high-altitude regions, including the Nanda Devi biosphere reserve and several forest divisions.