Even as rescue and relief work goes on in the worst-affected areas of Uttarakhand, the hilly Himalayan State which has been pounded by rains, landslides and cloudbursts over the past week, the Army and the Air Force there were on Friday joined by two teams of divers from the Navy.

While the 12 divers will be deployed, once they reach Dehradun, as per the instructions of the State government, the Army personnel on Friday opened the all-important road link from Sonprayag to Gauri Kund, the base camp for treks to Kedarnath. Approximately 1,000 people stranded at Gauri Kund were being evacuated along the newly-opened road to Sonprayag and Tehri.

Paratroopers with specialised mountaineering equipment reached out to people stuck in various gorges and ravines between Gauri Kund and Rambada. As many as 70 Army men were carrying out search operations in the Ram Bara area. Sixteen stranded people were rescued by special force personnel at Jungle Chatti near the area.

In the Joshimath sector, the Army constructed a temporary bridge across Alaknanda River near Govind Ghat to enable Hemkund Sahib pilgrims to cross over. Similarly, two landslides between Govind Ghat and Gagariya have been cleared and nearly 500 people have been evacuated so far. As many as 91 people were evacuated by Army helicopters from Badrinath and 322 people were air lifted from Ghagriya.

Over the past few days, Army Aviation helicopters have flown as many as 104 sorties with 11 aircraft, evacuating 523 people and delivering 13,000 kg of food, fuel and medicines.

The Army reached Gangotri late on Thursday and about 500 people from the spot are being evacuated to Harsil. The Army camp at Harsil will provide shelter, food and medical aid to 1,500 people. Some of them have since been evacuated by helicopters from Harsil. The Rishikesh-Gangotri route has been opened up to Uttarkashi; the road between Uttarkashi and Harsil is still not open for due to land slides at number of places. The 74-km stretch will be the focus of the Army’s attention from Saturday.

In Pithoragarh district, eight stranded civilians were evacuated by Army helicopter from Milam. About 160 people were evacuated from inundated areas and moved to upper reaches and given first aid, food and shelter.

An Army team has been chopper-dropped 12 km from Pindari glacier in the Kumaon region’s Bageshwar district to evacuate 50 people stranded on the glacier.