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India Floods: Death Toll Nears 600

Syuzanna Petrosyan |
June 21, 2013 | 5:55 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

(Wiki Commons)
(Wiki Commons)
In India, recent floods and landslides have killed more than 550 people and left thousands stranded. Entire villages have been washed away in the state of Uttrakhand, with tens of thousands still missing. The floods mark one of the worst natural disasters in the region. "This kind of disaster has never happened in Himalayan history," Vijay Bahuguna, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, told the CNN-IBN news channel. 

At this point, it is difficult to understand the total impact of the floods as many of the worst-affected areas remain inaccessible. Bahugna noted that, "556 bodies have been noticed by the army... either floating or buried in slush."  Most of those stranded in Uttrakhand were Hindu pilgrims to the revered shrines. According to the Press Trust of India, State Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat has said: “It will take us at least five years to recover from the extensive damages caused to the entire infrastructure network in the Kedarnath area which is the worst affected.” 

The Indian Army is leading the rescue efforts, trying to reach those in most need of assistance. Soldiers have been helping bring thousands of homeless people to relief camps and providing them with necessary supplies. The air force has dropped food and medicine for people trapped in towns and villages cut off since Sunday. Furthermore, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced a 10bn rupee ($170m; £127m) aid package for the state. 

Despite the relief efforts, Dehradun, the state capital of Uttrakhand, has been witnessing demonstrations by hundreds of people who are still looking for relatives. The slow response by the government is the main grievance as protesters complain that evacuations are taking too long and bigger rescue helicopters are needed. Jasveer Kaur, a survivor of the floods, found shelter in a shrine. “There was destruction all around,” she said, “It was a nightmare.”

SEE ALSO: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-23001947

Reach Executive Producer Syuzanna Petrosyan hereFollow her on Twitter. 



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