12 000 pilgrims stranded by monsoon

2013-06-19 18:33
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lucknow - India's prime minister said on Wednesday that the death toll from flooding this week in the northern state of Uttrakhand, had surpassed 100 and could rise substantially.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke on his return from an aerial survey of the area, pegging the death toll at 102.

"It is feared that the loss of life could be much higher," he said.

A joint army and air force operation evacuated nearly 12 000 Hindu pilgrims stranded in a mountainous area by torrential monsoon rains and landslides, but nearly 63 000 people remained cut off, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde earlier said the flooding in Uttrakhand washed away roads and nearly two dozen bridges, and demolished 365 houses and partially damaged 275 others.

Uttrakhand's top elected official, State Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said the casualties were heavy, but the exact number would be known only after a survey of the area.

A three-storey apartment building toppled into a river on Sunday and was carried away by the flood waters, said Amit Chandola, a Uttrakhand government spokesperson, adding that a helicopter on its landing pad also was swept away.

The government also said 40 small hotels on the banks of the Mandakini River in the Gaurikund area were destroyed by the swift-moving current.

Describing the situation as grim, Bahuguna said his administration was not equipped to tackle such a massive disaster, and asked for federal assistance.

The region is 400km southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

An additional 17 people have died since Sunday when their homes collapsed in Uttar Pradesh state, which borders Uttrakhand, said R L Vishwakarma, a state police officer.


The flooding has affected several states and the capital, New Delhi, where nearly 2 000 people have been evacuated to government-run camps on higher ground.

Authorities there said the situation would ease as the level of the Yamuna River was expected to start receding on Thursday afternoon.

Flooding is an annual occurrence in India, which depends on monsoon rains to sustain agriculture. But the heavy downpours also cause the loss of lives and property.

Most of those stranded in Uttrakhand are Hindu pilgrims to four revered shrines in the region. Bahuguna said the Kedarnath temple - one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range - had escaped major damage, but up to 4m of debris covered the area around it.

"We are fully engaged in rescuing people who have been stranded in the higher reaches," Bahuguna told reporters earlier.

Nearly 600 people were evacuated by air force helicopters and the rest by the army using land routes.

With the sky over Uttrakhand clearing up on Wednesday, the helicopter operation concentrated on the worst-hit Kedarnath temple area, which received 380mm of rain in the past week, nearly five times the average for that time period, said R P N Singh, junior home minister.

Air force spokesperson Priya Joshi said 22 helicopters have dropped food packets and other relief supplies in addition to ferrying stranded tourists.

More than 5 000 soldiers helped bring thousands of homeless people to relief camps and provided them with food and medical supplies.

Read more on:    manmohan singh  |  india  |  weather

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.