5,500 may have died in north India floods: Officials

A state lawmaker last month warned the death toll could exceed 10,000 in Uttarakhand.

Afp July 09, 2013
n this photograph taken on June 23, 2013, stranded Indian pilgrims wait to be rescued on the side of a river at Govind Ghat. PHOTO: AFP

DEHRADUN: Authorities have raised to 5,500 the estimated number of people who perished in devastating floods that swept the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand last month.

At least 1,000 residents, Hindu pilgrims and tourists have been confirmed killed by the surging waters caused by heavier than normal monsoon rains that washed away homes, hotels, highways and cars.

"The total number of people still missing is 4,500," Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna told a news conference in mountainous Uttarakhand state capital Dehradun on Monday.

Late last month authorities estimated the number of people missing in the Himalayan state to be 3,000.

"We will wait until July 15 and after that they (the missing) will be presumed dead and the process of compensation will start," Bahuguna added.

The government has promised to pay Rs500,000 to families of each of those  killed in the June 15 floods, which triggered widespread landslides.

Officials say some people initially reported missing may have returned home or continued with their travels, failing to notify authorities that they were safe.

Rescue workers have recovered bodies from rivers hundreds of kilometres (miles) downstream from the flood zone, underscoring the difficulties in finding all those killed in the floods.

A state lawmaker last month warned the death toll could exceed 10,000 in Uttarakhand, which is popular among Hindu devotees who throng local shrines during the June-September pilgrimage period.

Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Subhash Kumar  said a 75-member rescue team was marooned in Kedarnath Valley after reaching the hilly region on July 3 and that the rescuers were running out of food.

"They are now rationing the food they carried for themselves," Kumar told reporters.

He added that 60 of the rescuers were sick from drinking contaminated water in corpse-littered Kedarnath, a popular Hindu pilgrimage site.

He said relief supplies have been sent to 250 villages that are still cut off in Uttarakhand and added that state workers stocked up stores in 92 remote hamlets with supplies for residents.

Thousands of Indian soldiers, backed by military helicopters, have been winding down massive rescue efforts.

More than 100,000 people stranded in the state have been evacuated.


I am a Khan | 9 years ago | Reply

@Vishal Kaul:

Just to correct your information no muslim ever worships the Kaaba. The Kaaba is our Qibla (direction for prayer), so that all muslims the world over, face the same direction while praying to the one and only true lord, for unity and discipline. Regarding your comment about only the temple surviving makes no difference, as a piece of stone or building or statue makes no difference. Its the people who worship false gods, that faced the wrath of the real God. Also if the temple was completely unhurt, why has yatra been suspended for more than 3 years? think about it, dont follow media news blindly.

@ram: Stampede during Hajj is purely man made, rains and floods in char dham are purely natural. There have been no natural disasters in the Makkah and Madinah area, proving them to be the real holy places.

Its for your own good to understand the sign from God and come to worship only the real God and accept the real religion Islam.

np | 9 years ago | Reply

@I am a Khan: Is that all you can say about 550 people dead? What about the floods in Pakistan? What about Tsunami in Indonesia? If you cannot mourn the dead at least don't use their deaths to proselytize.

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