New Delhi/ Dehradun: Thousands of Char Dham pilgrims were stranded on Gangotri and Yamunotri routes, as incessant overnight showers across Uttarakhand caused landslips in Uttarkashi district.

The state government has said that the next 48 hours are critical for those undertaking the Char Dham Yatra.

The Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath motor way and pedestrian routes are blocked at about a dozen places by rocks and boulders that have come down as part of the debris from collapsed houses and landslides triggered by rains continuing for the last 36 hours.

Eight persons were killed on Sunday in three separate incidents of house collapse in Dehradun and landslips in Rudraprayag. According to National Disaster Management Authority officials, five more bodies were recovered on Monday from nearby Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath, taking the toll to 13 even as the Char Dham Yatra remained suspended for the second consecutive day. They said five bodies were recovered from Basukital adjoining Kedarnath.

"More than 50 people are missing. Thousands of pilgrims are stranded in Uttarakhand," M Shashidhar Reddy, vice president of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said.

He also said National Disaster Rapid Force (NDRF) officials are finding it difficult to move heavy machinery to the rescue site. "Tweleve of our NDRF teams are already there, even Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and army units have also reached Uttarakhand for rescue operations," Reddy said.

The rains have triggered flashfloods in the Ganga, Yamuna and their tributaries at most of the places sweeping away a number of bridges, roads and buildings. The swirling waters of Assiganga, a tributary of the Ganga, has swept away several buildings.

Meanwhile, the annual Kailash Mansarovar yatra was suspended on Monday in view of the heavy rains and landslides in the state. "The yatra has been stopped in Buddhi in Uttarakhand in view of landslides and heavy rains. The pilgrims have been accommodated in various locations and the route will be opened again after things get normal," a senior Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) official said.

The met department has forecast even more thundershowers. After a cloud burst in Rambada, 50 people were reportedly untraceable. The worst-hit areas include Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi, where the river Mandakini is in spate. In Rambada, the river water entered the market area. There is no official confirmation about the number of people feared to have been washed away in the floods.

The Met department has said that the rains this year in June have broken an 88-year record. Between Saturday to Sunday, the state capital received 220 mm of rain. Rains have also halted movement of traffic on National Highway 58. As many as 123 roads in the Garhwal region have been blocked, a public works department (PWD) official said.


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