Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops [PHOTOS]

   on June 20 2013 4:48 AM
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A building starts to collapse into rising water of river Ganga in northern India's pilgrimage town of Uttarkashi in this still image taken from video June 16, 2013, after 36 hours of rain. Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A man swims in the flooded waters of river Yamuna to retrieve floating watermelons in New Delhi Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A building starts to collapse into rising water of river Ganga in northern India's pilgrimage town of Uttarkashi in this still image taken from video June 16, 2013, after 36 hours of rain. Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A house submerged in sand due to floods in Srinagar Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    Residents carry their belongings through an alley flooded with the rising water level of river Yamuna after heavy monsoon rains in New Delhi Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    Man unlocks door of his flooded house as other residents watch after a rise in the water level of river Yamuna in New Delh Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A submerged statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva stands amid the flooded waters of river Ganges at Rishikesh in Uttarakhand Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A boy extends his hands to catch money after selling watermelons that were retrieved from the flooded waters of river Yamuna after heavy monsoon rains in New Delhi Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    The Kedarnath Temple is pictured amid damaged surroundings by flood waters at Rudraprayag in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A stranded mouse rests on a stick next to the rising waters of river Yamuna in New Delhi June 19, 2013. The rains are at least twice as heavy as usual in northwest and central India as the June-September monsoon spreads north, covering the whole country a month faster than normal. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    People hold nets to catch floating watermelons in the flooded waters of river Yamuna after heavy monsoon rains in New Delhi Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    A Hindu devotee tries to take a holy dip in the flooded waters of river Ganges in Haridwar Reuters
  • Monsoon Floods In North India: Thousands Feared Dead, Military Assists In Rescue Ops
    People carry oil lamps as they pray for the flood victims in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand outside a temple in Ahmedabad Reuters
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India's military stepped up rescue operations in the state of Uttarakhand where more than 150 people are dead according to official estimates, while thousands more are missing after flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rains wreaked havoc in the region, which lies in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Thousands are feared dead in the state as rescue operations struggled to reach several villages in the state's rugged, mountainous terrain, which remains inundated from the downpour and cut off by landslides from the rest of the state.

The Army and Air Force resumed operations by Thursday morning in flood-hit areas after bad weather hampered rescue efforts Wednesday late night as helicopters could not reach affected areas from the state capital, Dehradun.

"Since 6.30 in the morning three choppers have been on job. So far, 77 tourists were airlifted," an official told Indo-Asia News Service.

The hill resorts of Uttarakhand are a major attraction for local and foreign tourists while the upper reaches of the state -- home to Hindu temples -- attract millions of pilgrims each year. Certain media reports estimate that it will take more than two years of redevelopment for the region to return to normalcy.

The maximum destruction is reported to have occurred in the temple town of Kedarnath where thousands of tourists and locals are feared trapped. According to the State Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre, casualties may number in the thousands as about 90 rest houses for pilgrims were swept away by flood waters.

However, the current official estimate of the death toll stands at 150.

So far, more than 15,000 people stranded in Kedarnath and Govindghat, another pilgrimage center, have been rescued and shifted to relief camps, a senior police official told Press Trust of India.

Several villages in Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts remained flooded making it impossible for rescue personnel to assess the damages and casualties. According to local media reports, flooding in the Alaknanda River in Rudraprayag, known for its white-water, washed away whole villages and bridges, causing heavy damages.

Environmentalists have blamed unplanned development activities in the region for its current predicament, arguing that destruction of forest cover, closely-spaced hydro-power projects on the state's rivers, and unbridled commercial construction have destabilized the ecological balance.

In the country's capital, New Delhi, which lies about 350 kilometers (217 miles) to the southwest, rising water levels in the Yamuna river flowed over its banks to flood houses and buildings, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate. The flood waters also disrupted rail and road transport services in the region, media reports said.

The monsoon season in India, which lasts about four months from June to September, brings rains all across the country, and is vital for its farming sector and economy.

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