At least 12 stranded pilgrims from Karnataka were airlifted from various places in the worst-affected Kedarnath sector in Uttarakhand even as an estimated 25 to 40 pilgrims from Karnataka are yet to be traced.
Most of those yet to be traced could be in the Kedarnath-Gaurikundi- Rama Bara areas in Rudraprayag district where communication link is yet to be established, government sources told The Hindu. These people may have been stuck in areas that continue to be inaccessible through mobile phones or cannot reach Rishikesh or Hardiwar by road since road connectivity has also been cut off, sources said.
The panic calls that are being received by the three-member rescue monitoring committee now stationed in Uttarakhand are from families of those who were in these areas before the communication was lost, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Internal Security) Hemanth Nimbalkar told The Hindu. Among those pilgrims with whom the contact is yet to be established are from families from Mysore and Maddur, and a few other places, he added.
He said those airlifted on Saturday included Mrutunjaya, who carried the ashes of yesteryear playback singer P.B. Srinivas. Arrangements were also made to send 161 persons, who arrived on their own to Rishikesh and Haridwar to Delhi.
“Since road connectivity is being established, people stranded in different parts are coming in buses or in some cases military vehicles were bringing them back,” Mr. Nimbalkar said. Of about 12,000 people stranded in Badrinath, about 120 to 130 are from Karnataka.
Anxiety among the families of those yet to be rescued as well as those missing increased on Saturday as weather condition turned bad.
“Poor visibility has hampered rescue operations as only six to seven hours window was available for helicopters to operate,” he added.
On Saturday, a medical team sent by the government attended to about 50 pilgrims who returned to Delhi from Uttarakhand. “The pilgrims were treated for cold, cough, fever and body ache. Many had not had food for a few days.”
Meanwhile, a group of six persons from Bangalore returned by Karnataka Express on Saturday afternoon. “We had completed visiting three of the four pilgrimage places and were to go to Badrinath when rains started causing havoc”, said Rukmini, a pilgrim who returned to Bangalore on Saturday.