Twelve persons were killed and 25 others were missing as torrential rains and landslides hit Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh and Chamoli districts in the wee hours on Friday, burying villages in sludge with many residents trapped under the debris.
While eight persons were killed in cloudburst in Pithoragarh district, four lives were claimed by heavy rains in Chamoli district. Two persons were swept away by the muddy waters and debris rushing down the slopes into Siron village in Chamoli.
One person was killed in Ghat block and another in Sithel village in similar circumstances, SDM Chamoli S K Barnwal said, adding eight persons trapped in the debris have been rescued in the district so far.
Centre rushed rescue teams of National Disaster Response Force to Uttarakhand and assured the hill state of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Harish Rawat on phone and took stock of the situation.
The cloudburst in Singhali area of Pithorgarh district brought over 100 mm rains in two hours in a region of 50 sq km, flattening homes in over seven villages, according to officials. "We have recovered five bodies from Singhali area while three bodies have been recovered from Thal village. The search for others is on by rescue parties consisting of army and paramilitary personnel," Pithoragarh District Magistrate H C Semwal said.
"25 persons, missing from over seven villages of Singhali area in Didiihat sub division of Pithoragarh district, are being traced with the help of ITBP, SSB and Pithoragarh district police," said district disaster management officer R S Rana who was on the spot.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who is is Delhi, expressed grief at the loss of lives and announced a compensation of Rs two lakh each to the families of the victims.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives due to cloudburst and heavy rains in Uttarakhand and hoped normalcy would return there at the earliest.
The MeT department in Dehradun had on Thursday warned of heavy rains in isolated places in Uttarakhand especially Nainital, Udhamsingh Nagar and Champawat districts over the next 72 hours starting this morning. Light to moderate rains are also likely to occur at most places during the period, it had said.
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