Uttarkashi Avalanche

Uttarkashi Avalanche: Rescue Ops Delayed Due To Bad Weather

The operation to rescue the mountaineers stuck on the Draupadi ka Danda mountain peak in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, where an avalanche hit on October 4, was delayed due to bad weather conditions on Friday morning.

Sub Divisional Magistrate, Bhatwadi, Chatar Singh said that four more bodies of the trainee mountaineers were brought on Friday morning, which will be taken for post-mortem.
“Four more bodies of trainee mountaineers have been brought this morning. Bodies are being taken for post-mortem. Their families have been informed,” Singh told ANI.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that a total of 19 bodies have been recovered so far and he is monitoring the rescue operation.

“Till now, 19 bodies have been recovered. Rescue operation is underway by teams of NDRF, SDRF, ITBP, Indian Army, and district administration. I’m also monitoring the rescue operation,” he said.

Earlier today, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said that efforts are being made to bring the bodies to Matli helipad by Advanced Light Helicopter today.

Out of the 19 bodies, four bodies were brought to the summit camp by the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team deployed for the rescue operation, while 15 bodies were recovered at the place of the incident.

“From the summit camp, according to SDRF constable Sunil four bodies have been brought to the summit camp by the team,” said DGP Ashok Kumar.

Personnel from various teams of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM), the Air Force, the Army and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), and the High Altitude War School in Gulmarg in Jammu and Kashmir have been deployed in the rescue operations, the official said.

Mountaineers from the NIM participating in a training course were trapped in a glacier crevice on Tuesday morning after an avalanche hit the peak. The team was returning after summiting.

NIM’s advanced training course team included trainees and instructors. On Thursday 12 more bodies were recovered.

Of the bodies recovered 14 were trainees and two were instructors, Uttarakhand Police said.

Earlier, Chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami condoled the deaths of mountaineers.

“The rescue teams are working continuously and I am monitoring the situation”, the chief minister said.

On Tuesday, about 41 trainees and instructors of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering were hit by an avalanche. The institute said that the Advanced Mountaineering Course commenced on September 14 at NIM Uttarkashi.

The course moved to the mountain on September 23 with 41 people- 34 trainees and 7 instructors and one nursing assistant and arrived at the Base Camp on September 25. As per the training program, the course went on for high altitude training from October 2-October 4. After summiting the 5,670-meter altitude Mt Draupadi ka Danda II the team was on its way back when the avalanche struck at around 8; 45 am above camp 1 in which 34 trainees and 7 instructors got caught in it, according to a release by the NIM on October 4. (ANI)

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Mountaineering Trainees Trapped

28 Mountaineering Trainees Trapped In Avalanche At Danda-2 Peak

As many as 28 people are feared trapped in an avalanche that hit Draupadi’s Danda-2 mountain peak in Uttarakhand, chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said on Tuesday.

Rescue operations are underway to rescue the trapped, all trainees of the Nehru Mountaineering Institute of Uttarkashi.
According to preliminary reports avalanche hit the team around 9 AM today.

“Information about 28 trainees of Nehru Mountaineering Institute being trapped following an avalanche in Draupadi’s Danda-2 mountain peak has been received. Rapid, relief and rescue operations underway by the district administration, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel,” CM Dhami said.

“Rapid relief and rescue operations are being carried out by the district administration, NDRF, SDRF, Army and ITBP personnel along with the team of NIM to rescue the trainees trapped in the avalanche in Draupadi’s Danda-2 mountain peak at the earliest,” tweeted the chief minister Dhami.

A SDRF team left from Sahastradhara helipad in Dehradun has rushed to rescue the trainees trapped in an avalanche for rescue work.

CM Dhami said that he has spoken to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and requested for help from the army to speed up the rescue operation.

“He has assured us to give every possible help from the Centre. A rescue operation is being conducted to bring out everyone,” Dhami said.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also took to Twitter and expressed his anguish to the loss of lives and consoled the bereaved families who lost their family members.

“Deeply anguished by the loss of precious lives due to landslide which has struck the mountaineering expedition carried out by the Nehru Mountaineering Institute in Uttarkashi. My condolences to the bereaved families who have lost their loved ones,” Rajnath Singh said in a tweet.

“Spoke to CM Uttarakhand, Shri @PushkarDhamiand took stock of the situation. Rescue operations are underway to help the mountaineers who are still trapped. I have instructed the IAF to mount the rescue and relief ops. “Praying for everyone’s safety and well-being,” Singh said. (ANI)

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Flood Survivor

It Never Rains, It Pours: Flood Survivor

I usually love the rains. Sipping coffee when it is raining is very relaxing. But after this (2018) monsoon, things will never be the same again. It started in May with what seemed like a cloud-burst. Then, there were incessant bouts of downpours. Initially, the problems were limited to waterlogging, potholes etc. The first reports floods came in Kuttanad (Alleppey).

By August 15, when the nation celebrated Independence Day, Kerala began to witness the wrath of nature. Reports said the dams across Kerala, mainly Idukki dam on the Periyar and Shabarigiri on the Pamba, were overflowing. Yet, nobody estimated the magnitude of the calamity in store. On August 17, many districts sounded a red alert. I live in Haripad, Alappuzha, which flooded because of improper maintenance of dams in the nearby districts.

We heard that several leaders blamed the rising waters to beef-eating sinners in Kerala. I believe we reap what we sow. It was just a natural process after ecological rampage. I remembered the Bible quote: Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall, no one is exempted from actions of nature. My phone had not stopped buzzing all this while.

My aunt called from the US kept advising me to “take your necessary certificates, get off and reach some safe zone”. We started rearranging and shifting our items, even packed our trolley and backpacks with the essentials in a bid to move out fast since the water level was increasing in the nearby river. That night we slept very late. At 6 am, we woke up to find the courtyard in ankle-deep water. The passersby, familiar faces, were all hurrying to safe camps.

My friends and neighbours were running away from their homes near the river, leaving behind a life’s worth of savings and memories. When I asked them where they were headed, they said they didn’t know. “Everything is gone! We are running to save our lives at least”. By the next day, I realised that things were getting worse. There were rumours that the water may rise to 3 metres.

I am 5 feet 3 inch and don’t know how to swim. Can you imagine how frightened I was! I called for information about relief camp in the vicinity and whether we could move there. One was being run by an uncle of mine from his new house which was multistoried. That evening when water rose in our compound steadily, we made our decision to leave.

I bundled some clothing, my documents wrapped in plastic covers and some food item and left for my uncle’s place. Our trip there was a long way through knee-deep pools of water. Thankfully, the relief centre was equipped with landlines and a generator, which helped us charge our phones and stay in touch with friends and family. We also managed to get groceries from the nearby town for the next few days via service trucks and rafts.

Day passed, with no relief from pouring water, nights were moonless and the birds silent. Three days later, the sun broke and I heard an ambulance. There were boats and rafts all around our building, and some tractors loaded with people. It looked as if entire town was moving past. From the balcony of our building, I saw a bridge nearby and army men rafting in. There were monstrous sounds of helicopters over us too. The water on the ground was at stomach-level and people of all age were climbing up the ladder handed out by the rescue operators.

Even at such moments, people joked about ‘how a beastly vehicle has turned out to be a saviour’. We were taken to a proper relief camp where we felt safer and calmer. I met many friends who had run away from the flood. There was mobile connectivity and even food was available, though overpriced; imagine paying Rs 80 for a bun! Over the next few days, radio was our only way for information and entertainment.

And we realised how informative its programmes were. I volunteered to visit other camps with supply of food and water. I found young and eager volunteers performing services to assist officials and in some cases even in the absence of any official. Some heroes don’t wear capes. With water levels residing, we decided to return to our house. The route was dotted with abandoned houses, covered with grime, broken walls and damaged vehicles.

Some people were busy cleaning and rearranging their lives. We found the floor covered with slime and mud. My parents, my sister and I got down to the job of cleaning, an effort that took us three days, and yet the stains on the walls and floor refused to go. We had lost our washing machine, motor pump and many other gadgets to the flood, and battled poisonous snakes that had nestled into the compound.

But I also picked up valuable lessons for life. We heard about marriages, festivals and other celebratory functions were either postponed or observed humbly in relief camps. I know some people donated their dowry money to the disaster relief fund. Onam came, and people celebrated its true spirit – “humanity”, and “Maveli naadu vaanedum kaalem manusherellam onnupolae”, the concept of Ram Rajya advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. We were helped by strangers, whose names we forgot to ask, whose castes or faiths we never bothered to know; there was unity without any barrier.