Heavy rains lash Uttarakhand, 16 dead; Nainital isolated

Dark clouds
Dark clouds hover over the sky while people holding umbrellas walk amid rain, in Nadia, Saturday, July 24, 2021. PTI

Eleven more deaths were reported in Uttarakhand on Tuesday as incessant rain continued to lash various parts of the state, especially Kumaon region, razing houses to the ground and leaving many trapped in the debris.

The death toll in rain-related incidents in the state in the last two days has risen to 16.

Nainital was cut off from the rest of the state with three roads leading to the popular tourist spot blocked due to a series of landslides.

Eleven deaths in rain related-incidents were reported on Tuesday, while many people are feared trapped in rubble following cloudbursts and landslides, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami told reporters in Dehradun.

"This takes the toll in rain-related incidents across Uttarakhand to 16, with five deaths reported on Monday," he said.

Three Army helicopters will soon arrive in the state to assist in relief and rescue operations, out of which, two are to be sent to Nainital district where heavy rains have caused massive damages, with houses collapsing in cloudbursts, landslides killing people and leaving many trapped in the rubble. One of these helicopters will assist in rescue operations in Garhwal region, Dhami said.

Giving details of eight out of 11 fatalities reported on Tuesday, the State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) here said seven people were killed in the wee hours in two separate house collapse incidents following heavy rains at Totapani and Kvarav villages of Mukteshwar and Khairna areas of Nainital district, respectively.

Meanwhile, one person was swept away by heavy rain in Bajpur area of Udham Singh Nagar district, it said.

Four people were trapped in the debris of a collapsed house at Rapad village in Bhetrojkhan area of Almora district out of which a woman was rescued safely, the SEOC said.

An unspecified number of people, all members of the same family, were also trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Bhikiyasain of the district, it said.

Four labourers, including three women, were trapped in the rubble of a landslide near Joshimath in Chamoli district. One woman labourer was injured in the incident while the rest of them are safe, the SEOC said.

The chief minister undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas along with state Disaster Management Minister Dhan Singh Rawat and state DGP Ashok Kumar to assess the damage caused by the rains.

He instructed all district magistrates (DMs) to assess the damages caused to farmers and send him a report at the earliest.

However, he asked people not to panic, saying all necessary steps are being taken to evacuate them to safety.

He also reiterated his appeal to Chardham yatris to stay where they are and not to resume their journeys before the weather improved. He also asked the DMs of Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts to take special care of pilgrims stranded on chardham yatra route.

The damage caused by the rains is being assessed, Dhami noted, admitting that farmers had been hit hard by the incessant showers.

He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to him on the phone to take stock of the situation and assured him of all necessary help.

The Mall Road in Nainital and Naina Devi temple located along the banks of Naini lake have been flooded, while a hostel building has been damaged due to landslides.

The district administration is trying to help tourists stranded in the town, the police has been deployed to warn incoming and outgoing traffic, asking them to stay put until the wet spell is over, a report from Nainital said.

Landslides have blocked the exits in the town. Around 100 people got stuck at Lemon Tree resort on Ramnagar-Ranikhet route, with water from swollen Kosi river entering the resort. Electricity, telecom and internet connectivity in Nainital district was also hit badly.

Nainital received 90 mm of rain, Haldwani 128 mm, Koshyakutoli 86.6 mm, Almora 216. 6mm Dwarahot 184 mm and Jageshwar 176 mm rainfall, the SEOC added.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel spoke to his Uttarakhand counterpart on Tuesday regarding Gujarati pilgrims stuck in the northern state following incessant rains there and urged him to extend all possible help to the visitors.

According to a rough estimate, around 100 pilgrims from different parts of Gujarat, who went to Uttarakhand for the Chardham Yatra, were stranded following heavy rains and landslides there, Gujarat Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi said.

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