Mumbai/Rishikesh, Jun 20: With most of the areas in Uttarkhand still cut off due to flood and landslides, and with both the Centre and state government in the dark about the exact number of casualties, an emotional last phone call from a woman to her brother doctor in Mumbai revealed the nature of the tragedy that befell the holy Hindu shrine of Kedarnath.
Dr Ashish Tiwari, formerly of Mumbai Hospital, and now practising in the metro, got a call from his sister Minakshi Agnihotri, who is still stuck in the mountains near Kedarnath alongwith her uncle (phoopha) dr Sukhdeo Prasad Agnihotri.
This was the summary of her last phone call, after which her cellphone was switched off due to battery loss;
"Bhaiya -mere samne -1000 se jyada log bah gaye paani me.. Gaurikund aur Gaurigoan ke paas ka bazaar poori tarah wash out ho gaye--hotel-bazaar-mandir ke andar aur aaspaas jo bhi tha wo sab bah gaya-ham fufaji ko lekar oopar pahad par aa gaye hai--mobile band hone wala hai--fufaji kaafi bimaar aur bhookhe hai--hamare paas peene ka paani bhi nahi hai--yaha khane pine ke liye fufaji ko oopar akela chhodkar ham neeche bhi nahi ja pa rahe hai--neeche locals rasad ke saamanon ke liye tourists se maar peet karne par utaru ho gaye hain"
(Bhaiya, more than 1000 people were washed away in the flood in front of us. The entire bazaars of Gaurikund and Gaurigaon have been washed away. Hotels, bazaars, temples, both inside and outside have been washed away. We ran up the mountain with our phoophaji (uncle). My cellphone is going to close right now. Uncle is sick and hungry. We do not even have drinking water. We can't leave our uncle here and go down to collect food. Locals below are on the verge of beating up pilgrims for supplies").
The cellphone then conked out. Dr Ashish Tiwari (0986920000) has been trying to contact his sister Meenakshi (09450151245) for more than 24 hours now but to no avail.
Meanwhile, IAF sources told India TV reporter that the situation in Kedarnath has become grim with fresh rainfall reported today. Nearly 8,000 people are still stuck in this hilly shrine, and the IAF and ITBP are trying to build a new helipad near Kedarnath.
Currently IAF helicopters are pickig up flood victims from Gauchar and gaurikund. The IAF has evacuated nearly 1,000 people sice Tuesday.
More than 30 MI-17 and ALH helicopters, AN-30 transport aircraft and C130J have been deployed for rescue and reconaissance missions.