Nation

Thousands stranded on way to Badrinath as landslide hits Char Dham route

May 20, 2017 09:32 AM

Dehradun: Thousands of 'Char Dham' pilgrims were stranded on way to the Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand on Friday when part of a huge rock rolled down the hills and blocked a key road in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, officials said. The pilgrimage has been temporarily stopped and the people - including women and children -- asked to take shelter at the major halts on the route, the officials added.

Piyoosh Rautela, executive director of the Uttarakhand Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre said the Border Road Organisation (BRO) is expected to clear the debris by Saturday. "All arrangements related to food and accommodation for the pilgrims are being made by the respective district administrations," Rautela told HT. The yatra started earlier this month and will run till end-June.

Officials said an estimated 11,000 people are stranded on both sides of the landslide spot. The incident occurred in one stretch of the route connecting Badrinath to Joshimath, around 300 km from state capital Dehradun.

Landslides and flashfloods are common in the Himalayan state where an estimated 5,000 people - most of them pilgrims - were killed in 2013 when heavy rains triggered a deluge in the Kedarnath valley. The unofficial death toll, however, was pegged around 10,000 as many bodies were never found.

Tripti Bhatt, the superintendent of police in Chamoli said no casualty has been reported. The 'Char Dham yatra' - an annual pilgrimage to the Hindu sites at Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gamgotri and Yamunotri - draws lakhs of people from India and Nepal to the Himalayan state every year.

Officials said besides pilgrims headed for Badrinath, tourists on way to Karnaprayag, Chamoli, Joshimath and Pandukeshwar were also among those stranded. Hundreds of vehicles were lined up on the road, they added.

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