18 killed in Uttarakhand rains, death toll may rise as several missing

Heavy rains triggered by cloudbursts in Pithoragarh and Chamoli districts of Uttarakhand, killed at least Eighteen people and injured many others, prompting chief minister Harish Rawat to announce a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of those who died.
Officials said that six deaths have been reported from Pithoragarh and five in Chamoli district.
Officials said the death toll could be higher as around 30 people are reported missing in Bastadi village near Didihat tehsil of Pithoragarh district after the cloudburst that triggered landslides late on Thursday night.
At least 160 families have been affected due to rains and landslides in Pithoragarh district alone.
Kumaon commissioner AS Nayal said that in Bastadi, villagers pulling out their neighbours from the debris were trapped and could have been killed along with others.
He said that Ogla, Bhagichaura and Askot were the worst affected areas in Didihat. CM Rawat has asked officials to camp in the affected areas and ensure that there is no dearth of ration. He also said that helicopters will be provided to ferry injured to the hospitals.
According to an official note, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Seema Shashtra Bal (SSB) teams have been sent to affected districts to carry out relief work.
Dehradun, US Nagar, Nainital, Champawat, Pauri, Almora, Tehri, Uttarkashi and Haridwar districts have also received heavy downpour in last 12 hours.
The communication network has been severely damaged at several places. The Char Dham yatra route has also been affected due to landslide at several spots.
The Thal-Munsyari road has been cut-off and dozens of vehicles remained stranded on both sides. The Yamunotri highway, near Kharadi, has also been damaged leading to traffic being halted.
Entry of heavy vehicles was halted on the Kedarnath highway after a landslide at Gangolgaon.
All major rivers in the hilly tracts have also swollen after over 54 mm rainfall was recorded in the state in the last 24-hours.
The Indian Meteorological department has issued a warning of heavy rainfall in the isolated areas in Uttarakhand, especially in Nainital, Udhamsingh Nagar and Champawat districts over the next 72 hours.

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