A Malayali priest, who was on his way to disaster-hit Joshimath died on Thursday after his vehicle fell into a gorge. Father Melvin Abraham Pallithazhathu (37), a native of Chakkittapara in Kerala's Kozhikode, was attached to the Diocese of Bijnor. He travelled nearly 300 km from Uttarakhand's Kotdwar to Joshimath with the relief materials.
Father Melvin set off on the journey on his jeep on Wednesday. He was later joined by another priest and an acquaintance of the Joshimath priest house.
"I started around 10:00 a.m. I am climbing the mountains with a vehicle full of relief materials. The priest there told me that the victims lack necessities. However, the climate is sunny. I am feeling happy," Father Melvin was heard saying in a video recorded during the beginning of the journey.
As the trio neared their destination, the vehicle entered a snow-clad road where the jeep got stuck. After asking his companions to get down and instruct him, Father Melvin drove the jeep back towards the gorge.
Even though his fellow travellers placed rocks ahead of the road's end to stop the vehicle from moving further, the vehicle moved speedily and fell into the gorge. Rescue efforts got delayed due to inclement weather. The priest's dead body could be recovered by Thursday night only.
Thousands of people in Joshimath have been moved to temporary relief camps as major cracks developed in residential structures due to land subsidence.
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