Panic-stricken families of the A.P. pilgrims slowly began to give up hope about their loved ones, as the State government was clueless about the casualties what with the Uttarakhand administration reportedly expressing helplessness to furnish any information about persons listed as missing.
A spate of telephone calls to the control rooms in Hyderabad and New Delhi only augmented the worries of kin of the pilgrims who were stranded or missing in Uttarakhand after heavy rains and landslides.
The A.P. government officials in New Delhi who were in constant touch with their Uttarakhand counterparts could get information only about those rescued.
A top official told The Hindu that the Uttarakhand government was preoccupied with rescuing stranded pilgrims and bringing them to safer places. The State government deputed Ministers -- D. Sridhar Babu and Danam Nagender -- to New Delhi. Union Minister P. Balaram Naik was asked to remain in New Delhi to coordinate the activity. As per the information furnished by the Collectors to the Central Control Room in Hyderabad, 2,419 pilgrims were reported to be stranded. Out of 55 pilgrims from Prodattur, 33 were brought to Haridwar from Mittani. About 195 persons were sent to New Delhi from Haridwar.
Another 140 from Vizianagaram and West Godavari made their own arrangement. Twenty three pilgrims from Nalgonda were held up at Jwala village near Gangotri waiting for help. The plight of 31 pilgrims from Krishna district was worse as they were stranded under the BSNL tower at Sukitaap village having lost their ATM cards and return tickets. The victims were without food and water and sought assistance from the authorities.
Shashank Goel, Resident Commissioner, AP Bhavan, told The Hindu that the official teams deputed to Dehradun, Rishikesh and Haridwar had managed to rescue the A.P. pilgrims and arrange first aid and transport for them to reach New Delhi. On Friday alone, 500 pilgrims were put on special trains to return to Hyderabad.
About 250 more are expected to reach Delhi where all arrangements were ready.