13 are from Maddur and one is from Bangalore
About 40 pilgrims from the State are still trapped in flood-hit Badrinath in Uttarakhand.
Even as the authorities are hopeful of wrapping up rescue operations by Sunday, 14 from Karnataka continue to be missing.
According to Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Internal Security), Hemanth Nimbalkar, who is one among the officials from State monitoring the operations, about 25 pilgrims were airlifted on Friday while about 50 were on their way to either Dehradun or Delhi.
He said 13 people from Maddur and B.S. Ravikumar, 43, a native of Bangalore, who has been working as a cook with a travel agency in Mangalore, were yet to be traced. Mr. Ravikumar was part of a nine-member crew of Mangalore-based Nirmala Travels, which arranged a tour for 49 pilgrims in two buses to Badrinath, Gourikund and other places.
All these while the travel agency had been maintaining that all the crew members and pilgrims were safe and they were on their way back to their native places. However, Mr. Ravikumar’s case came to light when presspersons caught up with five of them who returned to Mangalore on Friday. Those who returned to the city were Narayan Shenoy and Gokuldas Shenoy of Car Street, and Umesh Banjan, Jagannath and Lokesh of Manjeshwar.
Of the 49 pilgrims, 22 were from Channapatna, five from Belgaum, nine from Dharmavaram, two from B.C. Road near Mangalore and 11 from Bangalore. The buses left for Uttarakhand in June second week .
Mr. Shenoy told The Hindu that they reached Badrinath on June 15. “We stayed back in Gourikund because of heavy rain . We had collected food only for a few days as we thought the rain would stop in a day or two. But the downpour continued,” he adds.
On June 17, the team was split into two after floodwaters entered the place where they had been staying. “Buildings collapsed and a mad rush followed. The next day, both the groups came together, while Mr. Ravi Kumar, who worked in the kitchen, was missing. We kept looking for him for three days. We do not know what happened to him,” Mr. Shenoy said. Mr. Ravikumar was last sighted by a pilgrim at Gourikund on June 17.
Mr. Ravikumar is a resident of Akkiyappa Garden, Mohankumarnagar, Yeshwantpur. He had accompanied pilgrims previously too, Mr. Narayan Shenoy said. Mr. Ravikumar is a bachelor. The travels office maintained that the Uttarakhand police had been informed about his case.
Mr. Banjan said, “Thousands were stranded and many of them drowned. We could see dead bodies. Helicopters came and threw food and there was a mad rush to grab it. We had to manage with biscuits and water for many days, while we only had a single meal on June 19.”
“No one was ready to share food or groceries. Nearly 50 of us had to squeeze in four rooms for nine days,” Mr. Shenoy added.
“While young ones had to climb mountains, the aged and patients were shifted to a secure place by helicopters. We walked about 8 km and climbed mountains”, Mr. Shenoy added. They managed to reach Sonprayag on June 22 and were taken to Guptakashi where armymen have set up a camp. They had their first meal in many days from there. They reached New Delhi on June 24.
Twenty-five pilgrims airlifted on Friday Authorities hopeful of wrapping up rescue operations by Sunday
Twenty-five pilgrims airlifted on Friday
Authorities hopeful of wrapping up rescue operations by Sunday