DISGUSTING: Rescue choppers grounded as fuel not available; HP CM hits out
Chandigarh/Shimla/Dehradun: The rescue operations were suspended on Thursday in the rain-ravaged state as there was no fuel for the helicopters sent by the Centre.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh lashed out at the Centre for sending helicopters to Kinnaur district without any arrangement of fuel.
The two Air Force choppers could not operate due to refuelling problems, thus affecting rescue operations in the area. Nearly 500 people, including foreign tourists, continue to be stranded in the district.
"There aren't enough choppers and the ones that have been sent cannot fly because there is no fuel. There is no provision for fuel," Chief Minister Singh said.
The chief minister had been stranded for over 60 hours in Kinnaur before he was airlifted on Tuesday along with a dozen other tourists, some of them sick or senior citizens.
Kinnaur has seen its heaviest rain in 20 years.
At least 14 people have been killed so far in the state. Hundreds of houses have also been fully damaged owing to the incessant rains and consequent landslides.
Over 60000 people remained stranded in the rain-and-flood affected Uttarakhand with the holy town of Kedarnath being the worst hit. The death toll crossed the 150-mark and the rain finally stopped after three days, helping authorities step up their rescue and relief operations.
Landslides left scores of tourists and pilgrims stranded in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh while thousands have been displaced in Uttar Pradesh where several rivers are in spate. With over 400 roads and 21 bridges completely destructed and vast swathes of land under water, the rescue operation has become an uphill task.