Tour operators said all those who had gone through the hill State’s tourism department have been accounted for

Stranded in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, a group comprising mostly senior citizens from Chennai, has spent the last two days sleeping on road sides and eating biscuits amidst bone-chilling temperatures. “We are safe now in Rudraprayag but it took us a day to travel just 30 kms from Kochar as the roads were bad and only a few vehicles were being allowed at a time,” said V. Sivaprakasam from Nandivaram in Guduvancheri, the leader of a group of 56 persons, including 30 women, on a pilgrimage to Chardham.

The tour included a visit to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. However, the group has decided to skip Badrinath and is now travelling to Delhi via Haridwar to get back home. “We have been able to manage with funds sent by relatives. Thankfully, ATMs are working. But we do not know how we will get tickets for all 56 of us once we reach Delhi. We missed our train on the 18. We have requested the State government to arrange a coach for us from Delhi,” Mr. Sivaprakasam told The Hindu over phone.

Reports from various sources including Uttarakhand tourism department officials in Chennai show that apart from these 56, at least 100 others are stranded in various parts of the State including at Gala.

A 23-member team led by Vallimalai Swami Sadhu Balananda are also safe at Gala, R. Anand of the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd., a government of Uttarakhand undertaking, said. “The Kali river is in spate. We spoke to them on satellite phone as there is no mobile phone accessibility there. The government and Indo Tibetan Border Police are also monitoring the situation and ensuring that the yatris are safe,” he said.

Rana of the Gharwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd, another government of Uttarakhand undertaking, whose office is located in Chennai said that he had received enquiries relating to a team from Kumbakonam on Wednesday. “I have asked for the vehicle number and other details and have promised to help them locate their relatives. All those who went through the government tourism department are safe. Food and accommodation is being provided,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chennai police in a press release here said that two help lines have been set up for relatives of those stranded in Uttarakhand. The police will get in touch with the Uttarakhand police and army and get information about the stranded pilgrims. For assistance, relatives can call 28555936 or 23452323.

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