At least 47 deaths were reported in Uttarakhand on Tuesday as incessant rains continued to lash various parts of the state, especially Kumaon region, razing houses to the ground and leaving many trapped in the debris and in flooded areas.
The connectivity to Nainital was restored in the evening after hours of struggle amid inclement weather, officials said.
With 42 new fatalities in the Kumaon region, the death toll in the disaster has risen to 47 as five deaths were reported on Monday.
Twenty-eight people were killed in Nainital district, six each in Almora and Champawat, and one each in Pithoragarh and Udham Singh Nagar districts, the official said.
CM Pushkar Singh Dhami conducts aerial survey of flood-affected areas
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami undertook an aerial survey of the rain-hit areas and also interacted with the affected people on ground zero to make an assessment of the damage caused.
Interacting with the disaster-affected people in Rudraprayag, Nainital and Udham Singh Nagar districts, Dhami said people need to have patience in this hour of crisis.
All necessary arrangements are being made by the state government, he said, adding that there was no need to panic.
The crisis can be overcome with the cooperation of all, he said.
Disaster Management Minister Dhan Singh Rawat, DGP Ashok Kumar, Rudrapur MLA Rajkumar Thukral and senior officials were with the chief minister when he met the affected people in Rudrapur and Kichcha in Udham Singh Nagar district.
DIG Bharne said despite bad weather and continuing showers, the blocked roads in Nainital were cleared of rubble and connectivity to the tourist spot was restored.
Stranded tourists have also begun to leave for their respective destinations through Kaladhungi and Haldwani, he said.
Director-General of Police Ashok Kumar, who accompanied the chief minister on a visit to the rain-hit areas of Kumaon region, said roads, bridges and railway tracks have been damaged in Kathgodam and Lalkuan in Nainital and Rudrapur in Udham Singh Nagar district.
Around 100 people stranded at the Lemon Tree resort on the Ramnagar-Ranikhet route after water from a swollen Kosi river entered the resort were later evacuated to safety.
Electricity, telecom and internet connectivity in Nainital remained badly hit throughout the day.
Three Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters have arrived in the state and are assisting in relief and rescue operations. Two of them have been deployed in Nainital district, which has suffered extensive damage due to cloudbursts and landslides, Dhami said.
The third helicopter is assisting in rescue operations in the Garhwal region, he said.
PM Modi speaks to CM Dhami as heavy rains lash Uttarakhand
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami over the phone and took cognizance of the damage caused by the rainfall and discussed the relief and rescue work.
According to a statement issued by the state government, PM Modi assured that the Centre will provide all required help and assistance.
Over 300 people rescued from flood-affected Uttarakhand: NDRF
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has rescued over 300 people from flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand, the federal force said on Tuesday.
The NDRF has deployed 15 teams in the state, where 47 people have died in rain-related incidents so far. The Kumaon region of the hill state has been severely hit by heavy rains, leading to razing of houses and leaving many trapped in the debris.
"Rescue operation is in progress and so far, teams have evacuated more than 300 stranded persons from Udham Singh Nagar district and other flood-affected areas," an NDRF spokesperson said.
He said while six teams are deployed in Udham Singh Nagar, two teams each are stationed in Uttarkashi, Chamoli and one team each in Dehradun, Pithoragarh and Haridwar.
"One team and a sub-team have been deployed in Nainital while one sub-team is placed at Almora," the spokesperson said.
The team in Uttarkashi has been stationed to "respond to any contingency and ensure safety of 'yatris' (travellers) of the Char Dham yatra which has been halted temporarily", he added.
Rs 4 lakh compensation to the families of the deceased: CM
After conducting a survey of the affected areas, Dhami said the damage has been extensive. He said the focus is on evacuating stranded people to safety.
The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in rain-related incidents across the state over the last two days.
He said the meteorological department has predicted an improvement in weather conditions from Tuesday evening onwards.
Dhami also reiterated his appeal to Chardham Yatra pilgrims to stay where they are and not to resume their journeys before the weather improves.
He also asked the district magistrates of Chamoli and Rudraprayag to take special care of pilgrims stranded on the Chardham Yatra route.
However, a Devasthanam Board official said the yatra to Yamunotri in Uttarkashi has resumed with a record 2,381 pilgrims visiting the Himalayan temple on Tuesday.
The State Emergency Operation Centre (SEOC) said most rivers in the state are in spate. The water level in the Ganga in Haridwar has reached 293.90 metres, just a notch below the danger mark of 294 metres. Kali and Saryu rivers in Pithoragarh have reached the danger marks of 890 metres and 453 metres respectively.
The Gori river is flowing close to the danger mark at 606.75 metres, it said. Nainital received 90 mm rainfall, Haldwani 128 mm, Koshyakutoli 86.6 mm, Almora 216. 6 mm, Dwarahot 184 mm and Jageshwar 176 mm, the SEOC said.
(with PTI inputs)