Death toll in Uttarakhand alone is 28

After weeks of deficient monsoon in the northwestern region, the three Himalayan States of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as well as Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday faced cloudbursts, landslips and floods, causing at least 31 deaths.

Authorities issued a flood alert as the level in the Chenab, Tawi, Ujh and Basantar rivers approached the danger mark in Jammu.

In Himachal Pradesh, the police evacuated people along the river as flash floods hit Solang Valley. As river water levels rose, many vehicles were stranded on the Manali-Rohtang Pass. One death was reported.

The Chandigarh-Manali National Highway was closed. Border Roads Organisation personnel, with the help of local authorities, were providing relief to the affected people.

In Uttar Pradesh, two children drowned in the Ghaghra in Azamgarh. The Saryu and the Ghaghra were rising. Houses in villages of Barabanki and Faizabad districts were washed away.

In the worst-hit Uttarakhand, 28 persons including two children and three firefighters were killed and others went missing after being washed away by flash floods in Uttarkashi and Chamoli districts. Hundreds were left homeless. A dozen bridges were washed away and debris from landslips blocked most roads including national highways leading to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Hemkunt Sahib.

The Uttarakhand government suspended the Char Dham Yatra and initiated steps for the return of the over 1,500 stranded pilgrims.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, local police and civil officials were at work. The efforts were, however, hampered by rain, landslips and slippery mountain tracks, the State Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre said.

Generation came to a halt as silt in the powerhouses choked the turbines.

The Bhagirathi soared above the danger level in Uttarkashi and the Ganga was just short of the danger mark at Haridwar. An alert was sounded in areas along the Ganga and its tributaries. Those living in low-lying areas were asked to shift.

In Uttarkashi, bodies of seven labourers were recovered, while at least 20 others went missing after a flash flood washed away part of the power house of Assi Ganga power project Phase I. Phase II was also damaged. Some 73 houses were destroyed and large tracts of agricultural land washed away.

The Gangori fire station was destroyed and a fire tender and some private vehicles were washed away. The administration evacuated 200 families from the area and lodged them in government buildings. Tents were erected for people stranded in inaccessible areas.

The Gangotri highway was washed away to a length of several kilometres, as was the Gangori hanging bridge. Three firefighters were killed while rescuing people.

In Chamoli, two children were killed and two injured when their house collapsed in Karnaprayag. The injured were admitted to the Government Health Centre at Karnaprayag.

Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said compensation issues would be worked out after the rescue and relief works were over.