Indian army personnel assemble to evacuate Indian pilgrims who trapped in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 21, 2013. As many as 600 people have been killed and hundreds still missing in monsoon floods which swept through the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand last Sunday, triggering landslides and washing away several towns and roads, a government official said Saturday. (Xinhua/Stringer)
NEW DELHI, June 22 (Xinhua) -- As many as 600 people have been killed and hundreds still missing in monsoon floods which swept through the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand last Sunday, triggering landslides and washing away several towns and roads, a government official said Saturday.
The death toll is expected to rise once more dead bodies are recovered from the slush and mud lying everywhere across the hilly state, he said, adding that disaster management teams, comprising Indian Army, Indian Air Force and para-military troopers, have been trying their best to rescue people, mostly Hindu pilgrims, who are still stranded in the difficult terrain of the hilly state.
Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who visited the flood- hit areas of the state this morning, said that some 73,000 people have been taken to safety so far and an additional 30,000 to 32, 000 still stranded. "We are hopeful of evacuating all people in the next two days," he told the media.
Some 17 foreign tourists are among those who have been air- lifted to safety this morning, the official said, adding that the next two days will be crucial for rescue work as the weather office has predicted that heavy rains may again lash the flood-hit state.
"The rescuers, led by the Indian Army, are racing against time to rescue as many people as possible, still stranded in the hilly terrain. Many people have already died due to hunger and illness. Indian Army road engineers have been pressed into service to build bridges swept away in the floods," he added.
Local TV channels showed footage of Indian Army and Indian Air Force choppers air lifting people, including aged pilgrims, who are stranded in upper reaches of the state, including the pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, without adequate supply of food and water.
Flood survivors were evacuated to state capital Dehradun which has also been made the base for the relief effort, from where rescue workers, medicines and food are being flown to the flood- hit areas. Many of the survivors have been recounting the horror stories to TV channels, with some saying that they saw rocks and boulders, as big as cars, hitting those killed in the flash floods in the hilly terrain.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced a 10 billion rupees (170 million U.S. dollars) relief package for the state.
The monsoon arrives in India in June end and stays till September. But, this year, the weather office says that the showers came a fortnight ahead of schedule. Moreover, the rains in Uttarakhand is said to be the heaviest in 60 years.
BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhuanet) -- The death toll from the monsoon floods in the northern state of Uttarakhand has surged to over 550. Officials say more than 34-thousand people have been evacuated, but up to roughly 50-thousand more are still stranded.
Floods and landslides, triggered by heavy rainfall, hit northern India last Sunday. Uttarakhand was the worst affected state, with hundreds of buildings washed away. According to Indian officials, flooding and landslides have left some people in remote areas completely cut-off, and they could soon run out of water and food. Full story