DEHRADUN: With extreme rain, ensuing floods and landslides having claimed hundreds of lives in Uttarakhand, now the raw fear of an epidemic outbreak in these flood-hit areas looms large.
With potable water almost non-existent, hundreds of people from neighbouring villages have complained of fever and diarrhoea.
A Times of India report said that at least 128 people reported of high fever gastro-intestinal infections in Ramnagar village.
Authorities overseeing the rescue efforts are suspecting contamination of water resources due to dead bodies spread over the valley.
CNN-IBN reported that over 300 people from the villages of Rampur, Sitapur and Sonprayag are complaining of similar symptoms.
But the news from the ground suggest that doctors for the time being have been able to check the situation but the threat of an epidemic looms large as medical help has not been able to reach remote villages.
Uttarakhand evacuation will be done in 3 to 4 days: IAF chief
Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said the evacuation of flood victims in flood ravaged Uttarakhand would be completed within the next three to four days.
Air Chief Marshal Browne, who was speaking to reporters after visiting the site of yesterday's IAF chopper crash that killed 20 people, said: " I think 3 to 4 days more till the weather clears out and the operation is complete."
"The operation is going to continue. Most of the work is already been done. Weather will probably start improving by this Friday. In the mountainous region, the weather is always a factor And, on top of that, we are in the middle of the monsoon," he added.
Air Chief Marshal Browne also said the morale of the force and other security units remains high in spite of the tragedy, and added that the air force and the army has adequate resources on ground to resolve the crisis.
"Morale is still very high...Our rotors will not stop churning", he said.
"What exactly happened we will know only once we recover MI17 voice data recorder. We have sent commandos to the crash site. We have recovered recording devices and only analysis will reveal the cause of the crash," Air Chief Marshal Browne said.
"We are not ruling out anything, it (crash) could be technical related or weather related," he added.
Fog, rain delay air rescue
The rescue and evacuation operations were delayed in Uttarakhand early Wednesday owing to rains and dense fog in some areas, officials said.
"After the chopper crash Tuesday, we are moving with caution to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur. We are waiting for the weather to improve," said a senior state official.
While at some places the skies had opened up, fog remained a cause of concern, the official added.
The rescue mission to rescue more than 7,500 people still stranded on the Badrinath route in Joshimath and Harshil is likely to start around noon, officials involved in the operations told IANS.
Helicopter services, however, are continuing in Dharasu area of Uttarkashi. But with the inclement weather continuing to affect the rescue, army is now focussing more on the evacuation on foot.
Rescuers have been urging people to walk to safety to the army base camps with the help of the troopers guiding them.
The people, who have now reached the relief and medical camps set up by army, are waiting for the weather to clear so that sorties of choppers may begin and they can be airlifted to Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh.
More than 845 people have been confirmed dead in the natural calamity that hit Uttarakhand June 15.
Meanwhile, the bodies of eight people on board an Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper which crashed Tuesday have been located. Officials say the probability of survival of the remaining 12 is remote. The chopper has been charred badly.
Bodies of Uttarakhand chopper crash victims recovered
The dead bodies of all those killed in the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crash in Uttarakhand Tuesday have been recovered, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said Wednesday.
Browne, who reached Gauchar in Uttarakhand Wednesday morning to boost the morale of IAF personnel, said: "All the 20 bodies have been recovered and the cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft has also been found."
The air chief marshal will also do an aerial survey of the chopper crash site.
"We will be able to ascertain the reason of the crash only after analysing the cockpit voice recorder that has been recovered," he added.
20 die as IAF mercy chopper crashes in Uttarakhand
A newly-acquired Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed while engaged on a rescue mission in Uttarakhand Tuesday killing 20 people, a top official engaged in the relief operations said. The IAF, however, put the toll at eight, including the chopper's five crew members. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock over the accident and expressed his condolences to bereaved families.
The crash also claimed the lives of nine personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and six of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Management Authority vice chairman Shashidhar Reddy told IANS.
The helicopter, on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath, crashed north of Gaurikund on the return leg from Kedarnath, an IAF statement said.
"The eight persons onboard, including five crew members, sustained fatal injuries," the statement said. (Agencies)
Fears of an epidemic rise