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Hundreds stranded, three dead after heavy snowfall in Uttarakhand

The meteorological department warned of more rain and storm across Uttrakhand and other parts of  North India on Wednesday.

Three people died while hundreds of others, including former Chief Minister Harish Rawat and Rajya Sabha member Pradeep Tamta, were stranded at Kedarnath and Yamnotri shrines on Tuesday after heavy snowfall in the region.

Government officials identified the deceased as Sudama Singh, a 52-year-old pilgrim from Mumbai, 61-year-old Janki Devi from New Delhi and Nepalese porter Akash. The porter died after a trekking team was stuck in an avalanche near Kedartal in Uttarkashi. “We have sent three teams to rescue the stranded trekkers,” Uttarkashi District Magistrate Ashish Srivastava said.

Snowfall at Kedarnath disrupted helicopter services and movement of pilgrims. But those at Badrinath were transported to safer locations. Rudraprayag District Magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal said volunteers from the State Disaster Response Fund, local police and the administration were helping pilgrims.

Dust storm, rain and thunder also hit other parts of northern India. At least 100 animals died in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, while trees were uprooted in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla. Rajouri District Development Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said hundreds of vehicles were stranded. In Shimla, the hailstorm triggered traffic jams and snapped power supply.

Moderate to light rains occurred across Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana while a high-velocity dust storm hit parts of Delhi. Trees and electricity poles were uprooted and there were reports of power outages.

The meteorological department warned of more rain and storm across North India on Wednesday. “The actual storm is expected to hit today towards afternoon and evening,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, a senior scientist with the regional meteorological office. “We are expecting lightning, thunderstorm, rain and gusty winds that could reach up to 70 km per hour.”

All schools in Noida and Gurugram have been asked to remain close. The Jaipur district administration has advised people to stay indoors. The Haryana government has cancelled the leaves of all civic officials while fire and other emergency services are on alert.

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