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Northern states grapple with rain aftermath; death toll climbs to 42

twitter-logoPTI | August 20, 2019 | Updated 23:42 IST

(Eds: Merges related stories) New Delhi, Aug 20 (PTI) The northern states Tuesday grappled with the aftermath of the heavy rains during the weekend with damaged roads still to be repaired, flooded fields, rivers in spate and more bodies of victims being recovered. The death toll in the recent rain that triggered landslides in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and floods in Punjab and Haryana rose to 42 with four more bodies being retrieved in Uttarkashi. In the national capital, the Yamuna river was flowing almost a metre above the danger mark and threatened to swell further as Haryana released more water from a barrage on Tuesday afternoon. The weather, however, was mostly clear on Tuesday. In Himachal Pradesh, where 25 lives were lost, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told the state assembly that his government is working on a war- footing to restore damaged roads and water and power supplies in the affected areas at the earliest. He said during the entire monsoon season beginning July 1, over 60 people have been killed and the state suffered a loss of Rs 625 crore. After the recent rains, 1,600 stranded people have been shifted to safety in the state, the government said. Among them was a 30-member film crew from Kerala that included actor Manju Warrier. The 'actor contacted her family in Kerala through satellite phone on Monday night, telling them that they were stranded in Chatru village in Mandi district following multiple landslides. Himachal Pradesh Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda was airlifted to capital Shimla from tribal district Lahaul and Spiti so that he could attend the assembly session. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat visited the rain-ravaged Mori block of Uttarkashi, where 16 people died. Rescue teams from the State Disaster Response Force recovered three more bodies in Sanel village there, Uttarkashi's Disaster Management officer Devendra Patwal said. Makudi is the worst hit among the six villages where heavy rains led to the collapse of several houses early on Sunday. So far, seven bodies have been recovered from Makudi, four each from Arakot and Sanel and one from Tikochi. Later, addressing a press conference in Dehradun, Rawat said 51 villages in Uttarkashi were affected in the disaster which has caused losses of around Rs 130 crore. Ten helipads are in operation in the affected area and four civilian and IAF helicopters pressed into service, he said. He said Rs 320 crore is at the disposal of the state government for relief and rescue work and as of now it needs no funds from outside. In Haryana, directions were issued to evacuate people from affected areas of Yamunanagar, Kaithal, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Panipat and Sonepat districts. Twenty-families have been safely evacuated from Sonipat and Karnal districts, Haryana Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora said. About 500 families have already been evacuated from low-lying areas in Faridabad and Palwal districts. She said Markanda, Tangri and Ghaggar rivers had also recorded slight increases in the water level, but now the water has started to recede. In the Yamuna, the water level rose dangerously at Hathnikund barrage in Haryana's Yamunanagar on Sunday. Many rivulets also join the swollen Yamuna in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh before it enters the national capital. In Punjab, several villages in Ludhiana, Rupnagar and Jalandhar remained inundated because of breaches in the earthen embankments of the Sutlej river. Following the recent rains and the release of excess water from the Bhakra Dam, the Sutlej river and its tributaries had flooded villages in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Rupnagar, causing damage to crops, especially paddy, and houses in low-lying areas. According to a Delhi government official, the Yamuna breached the danger mark of 205.33 metres on Monday and was flowing at 206.40 metres at 9 pm on Tuesday. He said Haryana released 25,590 cusec and 21,006 cusec of water from the Hathinikund Barrage at 5 pm and 9 pm, respectively. The water level in the Yamuna is likely to reach 207.08 metres between 2 pm and 4 pm on Wednesday. The Northern Railway has suspended the movement of trains between Old Delhi and Delhi Shahdara stations. Indian Meteorological Department scientist Kuldeep Srivastava said rains are likely to subside in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh over the next four to five days, leading to an improvement in the situation in Delhi as well. The river flows through six districts of Delhi and low-lying areas there are prone to flooding. The administration has deployed 30 boats to prevent drowning accidents. The Delhi government has set up tents opposite Mayur Vihar Extension to accommodate about 23,000 displaced people. PTI TEAM ASH ASH

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