Indian monsoon flooding ‘leaves 1000 dead’ – ‘It was shocking to watch a place bustling with people metamorphose in a matter of a few hours into an island of death and destruction’Posted by Jim at Thursday, June 20, 2013
By Barney Henderson
20 Jun 2013
(Daily Telegraph) – Helicopters and close to 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to rescue tourists and pilgrims stranded after floods caused by torrential monsoon rains hit the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand at the weekend.
More than 22,400 people have so far been rescued, as the military takes advantage of clearer weather, but another 62,000 are still stranded, the Home Ministry said in a statement.
"Our priority is to take out the children and women first by helicopter," said Ajay Chadha, chief of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
"We hope to rescue all the living and then start the scavenging task," Chadha said in New Delhi, referring to the task of finding the dead.
Houses, buildings, and vehicles have collapsed or been swept away by overflowing rivers and landslides, while bridges and narrow roads leading to pilgrimage towns have also been destroyed, officials said.
Torrential rains four and a half times as heavy as usual have hit Uttarakhand, known as the "Land of the Gods", where Hindu shrines and temples built high in the mountains attract many pilgrims.
"There are some 3,000 of us stuck in Gangotri (a pilgrimage site) for the past few days and there is no food, no drinking water, or assurances from the government," a pilgrim, Parwinder Singh, told CNN-IBN by telephone.
"It is very difficult to move from here," he added.
At least 138 people have been killed across Uttarakhand and two neighbouring states also hit by floods and landslides, officials said, but shrine authorities warned the toll was more than 1,000.
"We estimate more than 1,000 people have died as unattended bodies are scattered all around," said Ganesh Godiyal, chairman of a trust in charge of several shrines in the pilgrimage towns of Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Over the border in Nepal, floods and landslides also triggered by the monsoon have left at least 39 people dead mostly in remote parts of the country, officials said. […]
"There is nothing left in Kedarnath now except the temple," pilgrim Sitaram Sukhatiahe told the Press Trust of India after arriving by helicopter in Dehradun.
"It was shocking to watch a place bustling with people metamorphose in a matter of a few hours into an island of death and destruction," he said. [more]