Eight persons from Andhra Pradesh who were on the ‘Char Dham’ piligrimage lost their lives in the flash floods and landslips in Uttarkhand even as the State government stepped up its relief and rescue efforts.

Those who died include five from a single family in Visakhapatnam, two from Guntur and one from Anantapur district. The five from the ‘Korimilli’ family of Seethammadhara were part of a group of 15 members who were on the pilgrimage. Three of the same group were still missing.

Two women from Guntur district were identified as T. Malleswari (64) of Duggirala and Krishnakumari (40) of Munnangi village in Kollipara mandal. They were on pilgrimage along with their spouses. The pilgrim from Anantapur district was identified as J. Veerabhadraiah of Chinnahoturu village in Vajrakarur mandal, who went in a group of 10.

Helpline at Secretariat

Over a dozen others are missing, including four from Krishna district and some from Hyderabad. In all, 2,425 pilgrims were stranded, including 748 from Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam (661), Krishna (280) and West Godavari (203).

A Revenue Department Control Room with the telephone number 040-23451043 is functioning at the Secretariat here to attend calls from relatives and friends of stranded pilgrims, apart from two teams of officials who were deputed to Dehradun from A.P. Bhavan.

Government rushed Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha to New Delhi to coordinate rescue and relief operations to help pilgrims from the State. The move comes after Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation afresh with Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty and other senior officials here on Thursday.

Meanwhile, sources in the Chief Minister’s Office indicated that three Ministers were likely to be deputed to New Delhi and Uttarakhand to supervise relief and rescue operations. If necessary, they would also proceed to places like Haridwar, Kedarnath and Rudraprayag.

Mr. Radha told The Hindu that batches of pilgrims had started from Haridwar and Dehra Dun by road to New Delhi. As directed by the Chief Minister, officials at AP Bhavan at Delhi would provide free food, medical facilities and financial assistance for transport. Efforts were being made so that extra coaches could be added to the trains bound for Andhra Pradesh. Union Minister, Chiranjeevi called on the pilgrims in AP Bhavan.

A press release from the CM’s Office said improvement in weather conditions in Uttarakhand was expected to help rescue and relief operations now and 23 helicopters that were pressed into service had airlifted about 2,500 pilgrims.