Uttarakhand floods: Army opens alternate route via Tehri, rescue in full-swing 

Uttarakhand flood rescueStranded pilgrims being shifted to safe place by Army personnel from Hemkund Sahib in Chamoli district. (PTI)

There is some good news for pilgrims stranded in the region below the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand as the Army has opened an alternate route towards Tehri.

Thousands are marooned at Gauri Kund which has so far been completely cut off by road. Paratroopers landed here on Thursday night looking for survivors. The road that the Army has opened up will join the highway below from Tehri. In pics: Uttarakhand flood

Massive rescue operations were today launched in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand with 40 helicopters pressed into service to evacuate over 9000 people from Kedarnath and Badrinath areas as the state government said the toll in the rain fury could be 'shockingly high.'

The focus of the rescue operation today would be the worst-hit Kedarnath area where 250 people are stranded, officials said. Uttarakhand relief fund: The Indian Express Citizens' Initiative

The operation would then shift to Badrinath where 9000 people are stuck, they said.

'Worst tragedy of the millennium'

As the rescue efforts picked up steam, Uttarkahnad Principal Secretary Rakesh Sharma said causalty figures can be 'shockingly high.'

Terming it as the "worst tragedy of the millennium", Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat said, "It will take us at least five years to recover from the extensive damages caused to the entire infrastructure network in the Kedarnath area which is the worst affected".

Rawat, who had visited the Kedarnath area, said that he spent five hours there and was shocked to see the extent of the damage caused to the buildings and area adjoining the shrine.

"The centre of faith has turned into a burial ground. Bodies are scattered in the area. Only the sanctum sanctorum is intact," he said.

Thousands of people were still said to be stranded in various parts of the state that was hit by cloudburst and floods in the upper reaches that left several hundreds of homes, rest houses and buildings in ruins and thousands of people missing.

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