'They were washed away before our eyes'

Highlights

* Eye-witness account of how 10 people from Gudivada area perished in Uttarakhand floods * 40 people took...

* Eye-witness account of how 10 people from Gudivada area perished in Uttarakhand floods * 40 people took shelter in a hotel as waters started gushing down hills * Soon a part of the roof caved in, killing Punnayya on the spot * Seven rooms on the groundfloor washed away by floods, dragging down 7 people * Those on second and third floors, except one, jumped to safety and climbed a hill

ap1Gudivada: Ten persons who had gone from the district to Uttarakhand to undertake Chardham Yatra are feared to have been washed away in floods, according to those who went along with them and survived the unprecedented nature's fury. They have conveyed their worst fears to the near and dear of the missing persons, which plunged the family members in deep sorrow.

The ill-fated pilgrims are identified as Arjun Rao and Sailakshmi, a couple from Gudivada, S Punnayya and Chukkamma from Ammupalem, Chandravathi from Chodavaram, K R Prasad and Nagalakshmi and K Srilakshmi (mother of K R Prasad) from Bengaluru, P Baby Sarojini and S Susheela, also from Penumaka.

Srimannarayana, son-in-law of flood-affected couple Ch Suryanarayana and Lalitha Kumari, who rushed to Uttarakhand to meet them in Rishikesh, learnt of the tragedy from the couple. He related the shocking details to The Hans India on Friday. He said travel agents of Gudivada, Chittemma and Raju, had taken 40 persons on the pilgrimage on May 26 to Chardham. After reaching Rishikesh, the party left their bus and visited Gangotri and Nepal. While they were moving towards Kedarnath, it started raining heavily. A 15 km into their journey, they were forced to take shelter in a hotel on Sunday night.

According to Srimannarayana, while seven persons stayed on the ground floor of the hotel, 33 others were on the second and the third floors. The groundfloor with seven rooms was washed away in the floods. Seven people were feared drowned in the waters, while others scurried away to safety. The building slumped to one side and lay on a hill, when the floods fury increased.

A part of the roof collapsed killing on the spot Punnayya of Ammupalem (Krishna district). His wife Chukkamma, who was shocked, sat down next to the body and refused to leave, insisting she would remain with him. Later the entire roof caved in. Chandravathi who was on the second floor was also washed away in the waters. Others managed to save themselves by climbing the hill. Six others who could not climb, clung to a wall throughout the night. They were saved in the morning by local residents.

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They can't bring back the bodies even!

Samuel Tatikonda

Visakhapatnam: Little did they expect what would befall them or how horrific their journey would end in, they were together through thick and thin. And what a family this was � always together in their trials and joyous occasions and even in their death ultimately.

Tragedy struck this family of eight from the district in Uttrakhand. They had their roots in Munagapaka Village near Anakapalle, but found their way to this city of destiny � Vizag for a livelihood. They all had dreams, like everyone else. But their dreams remained dreams�lay shattered with all the bread-winners gone. "Uncle we don't have words to express our grief", said Chaitanya speaking to Hans India. "We were a contented and a happy family. We travelled together to Ooty, Kodaikanal and to several pilgrim centres".

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My grandfather K Devan Raju, who worked as a teacher in Munagapaka always wanted us to be together. After he died of an electric shock we still continued to live together. K Kondala Rao, the eldest of the three brothers, works in the Naval Dockyard did not make it on this trip because of some preoccupied errands. Says, Chaitanya, Kondala Rao's son, "we were also supposed to go but we could not make it", fighting back his tears. "I never thought this would happen". With other relatives put together the loss is eight, said Chaitanya.

Of the three brothers who died K Rama Rao is also employed in the Dockyard while the other two K Seetharama Swami and K Narayana Rao were into business. Their family was bonded in love and we were in for a shock, said Mr Srinivas, a family acquaintance. There was a steady flow of visitors' coming in to console this family. This reporter overheard some relatives discuss that the district officials did not "in any way" come forward to help them in this hour of grief. "We are making our own efforts to trace them and they will be reaching Dehradun tonight and maybe by Monday all our relatives will be back in Vizag". The bodies are decomposed and they would be consigned to flames there itself, said another relative wailing inconsolably.

15 missing from Krishna district

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  • 7 pilgrims from Thotlavallur mandal feared dead
  • 2 women from Devarapalli died of hunger
  • Pilgrims from Velpur and Penuganchiprolu reported safe

Vijayawada: As many as 15 pilgrims from different places in Krishna district were believed to have lost their lives in the devastation at Kedarnath. While seven from Thotlavalluru mandal were said to be killed in the floods, two from Bavajipet area of the city were also found missing from the team. It is said that the relatives of these missing persons have received information from the survivors on Friday from different sources.

According to the information available, Bhimavarapu Nageswaramma and Arepalli Satyavati of Devarapalli village of Thotlavalluru mandal in Krishna district were killed due to hunger. The whereabouts of five pilgrims from Penamakuru village of Thotlavalluru mandal was also not known yet, sending shock waves among the relatives in the village. The 12 pilgrims from Velpuru village of Kankipadu mandal, who were feared dead, have finally contacted their relatives and informed them that they were safe in a hotel, 3 kilometers away from Haridwar. The relatives breathed safe after receiving the call from one of the pilgrims, Dasari Sitaratnam, who called up her son Sitaramaiah.

The pilgrims from Penuganchiprolu too have contacted their relatives on Friday and told them that they had reached AP Bhavan in New Delhi. One of them, V Venkateswara Rao and his wife Nagamani called up their relatives that they had to walk continuously for 15 hours and took shelter in Vedaniketan at Haridwar.However, the safety of the pilgrims from Jaggaiahpet is not known yet. Palvai Narasimha Rao and Yarra Srinivasa Rao from Jaggaiahpet and their friend Rambabu from Chillakallu were on the pilgrimage when they were caught in the floods. After three days of struggle with the nature, they have reached Haridwar from where they called up the relatives at Jaggaiahpet. The 35 pilgrims from Gudivada, though safe at Sukhiya village were starving for the past three days.

Two of the 50-member team left by a bus from Eluru and Gudivada were missing from Gaurikund while the rest were safe. The couple Puvvala Arjuna Rao and his wife Sailakshmi of Gudivada were feared to have washed away in the floods when they were trekking Gaurikund. Another four persons from Chintaguntapalem and Pedana were missing from the team, while the rest have returned home safe. The whereabouts of the family members of Kuppa Durgaparasad and Unna Srinivasa Rao were not known as they dared the floods and walked ahead while the rest waited and reached safe.

Lolla Kutumba Sastry from Machilipatnam told the revenue officials that Durgaprasad had led the others promising them to take to the armed forces to safety. However, their whereabouts were not known yet, he said. The Bavajipet area in the city was shocked to know that nine of the 15 members, who were on pilgrimage, were found to be missing. One of them, Annapurna, called up her relatives and told them that nine members from the team were feared to be washed away in the floods while the rest were safe. Manchikanti Chinnammadu from the city, who went to Haridwar and returned safe, told the officials that several people were washed away in the flashfloods at Haridwar.

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Tragedy strikes Vijayawada pilgrims

ap6Vijayawada: Flash floods in Uttarakhand had caused tragedy in the city. Over 10 members from the city were missing for seven days. All of them belong to Bavajipeta and Gandhinagar areas. Ramesh Babu, son in law of Avula Venkata Raddy said that 15 members including his uncle and aunt had started from city for Chardham Yatra on 4th June They had visited several temples on the way and reached Delhi on June 13. Out of 15 members 4 members stopped in Delhi after hearing the news of heavy rains due to monsoon in Uttarakhand.

The remaining 11 members including Satish Kumar, Venkata Lakshmi, Venkata Reddy, Mangatayaru , Annapurnamma were not in contact after that day, he said. Out of the remaining 11 members Annapurnamma had survived and called their family members of Thursday. She explained that all the 11 members had successfully reached Kedarnath and offered prayers to the deity. In their return journey a huge tidal wave had hit them all of a sudden and everyone got scattered. She said that she escaped by climbing a tree. Annapurnamma also said that she saw some of their group members drowning in the river.

8 from Kadapa district missing

Kadapa: Naresh and Aparna of Jammalamadugu in the district were running from pillar to post to find out the whereabouts and well-being of their parents and two siblings who have gone to Kedarnath on a pilgrimage on June 11 and went out of touch since June 16.

Vishnuvardhan Rao, a lineman in AP Transco, left for Kedarnath Pilgrimage on June 11 along with his wife Vijayakumari and two sons, Kishore and Vinod in the company of his close relative Venugopal, his wife Sweta and their children Manavendra and Sushila from Tirupati.

Narendra and Aparna told the Hans India on Friday that their parents told them on phone on June 15 that they were going to Kedarnath shrine on foot. On June 16, they informed them that there was heavy rain in Kedarnath and they were stranded there. Since then there was no communication. They said they approached the local RDO and Tahsildar and gave details of their parents but did not get any information.

Proddatur pilgrims narrate their woes

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Kadapa: Several pilgrims from Proddatur who were stuck in Uttarakhand returned here on Friday and poured out their woes, describing their journey as a 'heroic' one and not a pilgrimage. 'We have to go without food and water. The travel agent took money and cheated us', said prominent doctor Y V Ramamuni Reddy, former Rotary club president Rami Reddy and his wife at a press conference. They said after going from New Delhi to Haridwar, Rishikesh and Badrinath, they had gone to Kedarnath and Gangotri for darshan of the Lord. But they could not visit the Kedarnath temple following the strike by the 'dole' and horse riders.

There were no floods then. Heavy rain had lashed while they were going to Yamunotri which the party could not visit. They explained that the journey en route to Uttarkashi had become difficult on account of boulders falling on the road eight km away from the village. 'A person slipping from the road would fall in the swirling river water. In such a situation, we managed to reach a lodge.

Thirty persons who were crammed in a room had to spend agonizing moments without food, water and power supply. Had we remained there we would have been washed away along with the lodge.' Dr. Ramamuni Reddy and Rami Reddy said severe hardships marked their return journey. 'Considering what happened there, we had doubts whether we will be able to reach here safely'.

They alleged that the travel agent after collecting Rs 18,350 from each pilgrim had cheated them. He had also collected Rs 8,000 each from 70 pilgrims promising to take them by a helicopter. The agent, they said, had paid charges for lodges and buses only up to Badrinath and absconded with the collected money without remitting the expenses..

Travel agent dupes pilgrims

ap8Kakinada: While the Minister of State for Railways Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy announced that a special train will run from Delhi to Secunderabad to take Char Dham pilgrims free of cost, a travel agent allegedly collected money from 113 passengers from the Mandapet area of East Godavari district on Friday.

The agent reportedly collected Rs 630 from each passenger. Earlier, district collector Neetu Singh announced that the stranded passengers would be provided free travel facility on the special trains and the special bogies attached to other trains. When The Hans India gave this information to the passengers, they reportedly questioned the travel agent. He told them that he purchased tickets and all of them were wait-listed.

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