As you all know few days back the Northern Indian states-Uttarakhandand Himachal Pradesh, and their adjoining areas have experienced heavy rainfall that triggered devastating floods and landslides. As of 21 June 2013, more than 1,000 people have died with many more missing. Damage to bridges and roads left over 70,000 pilgrims and tourists trapped in various places,of whom, many were rescued. As of 23 June 2013, about 22,000 people are said to be still stranded.
As of 22 June 2013, the death toll in Uttarakhandwas reported to be 1,000 with several more missing and more than 70,000 tourists and pilgrims stranded. By 23 June 2013, some sources claimed that the death toll could even rise to 5,000. The official death toll in Uttarakhand by 25 June 2013 was 822.
The upper Himalayan territories of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhandare full of forests and snow-covered mountains and thus remain relatively inaccessible. They are home to several major and historic Hindu pilgrimage sites and at least one such Sikh pilgrimage site besides several tourist spots and trekking venues. From 14 to 17 June 2013 Uttarakhand received heavy rainfall, which was about 375 percent more than the benchmark rainfall during a normal monsoon. This caused heavy floods in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Western Nepal, and acute rainfall in other nearby regions of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Tibet. In the city of Dehra Dun, capital of Uttarakhand, this was the wettest June day for over five decades. Heavy rainfall for four consecutive days as well as melting snow aggravated the floods. Warnings by the India Meteorological Department predicting heavy rains were not given wide publicity beforehand, causing thousands of people to be caught unaware, resulting in huge loss of life and property.
Death and Damage at Kedarnath (Kedar Ghati):
Due to the floods, damaged several houses and structures, killing those who were trapped. The heavy rains resulted in large flash floods and massive landslides. Entire villages and settlements such as Kedarnath. Over 70,000 people were stuck in various regions because of damaged or blocked roads. Although the Kedarnath Temple itself had not been damaged, its base was inundated with water, mud and boulders from the landslide, damaging its perimeter. Many hotels around the temple were destroyed, resulting in several casualties. Most of the destruction at Kedarnath was caused by a sudden rapid melting of ice and snow on the Kedarnath Mountain, 6 km (3.7 mi) from the temple, which flooded the Charbari lake (upstream) and then Kedarnath. Within the temple, a panic-driven stampede resulted in several deaths.More than 500 people are currently missing from Kedarnath.The Uttarakhand Government announced that due to the extensive damage to the infrastructure, the temple will be temporarily closed to regular pilgrims and tourists for a year; but the temple and its rituals will still be maintained by priests.The Kedarnath Yatra would also not be held for the next 2 years.
As of 26 June 2013, the official death toll in Uttarakhand, based on the collected bodies of the victims, had crossed 20,000. Rescuers at the Hindu pilgrimage town of Haridwar on the river Ganga have been reported to have recovered bodies of 40 victims washed down by the flooded rivers as of June 25 2013.
The Army, Air Force, Navy, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Border Security Force, National Disaster Response Force, Public Works Department and local administrations worked together for quick rescue operations. Several thousand soldiers were deployed for the rescue missions. Activists of political and social organizations are also involved in the rescue and management of relief centers. Helicopters were used to rescue people, but due to the rough terrain, heavy fog and rainfall, maneuvering them was a challenge. Ministers from all over the country are chipping in with aid, money is flooding the Uttarakhand Disaster Management and Mitigation Centre. All this has happened this past week after massive rains and floods ravaged the Himalayan State. On June 25, an IAF resue chopper crashed. Eight of those on-board were fatally injured.
Uttarakhand Floods Important Helpline Numbers:
- Uttarkashi- (+91)1374-226461
- Chomali- (+91) 1372-251437 | 9411352136
- Rudraprayag- (+91) 01364-233727 | 9412914875
- Control Room (Uttarakhand)- (+91) 0135-2710334 | 9557444486
How does it make you feel?
As many as 4,000 people are believed trapped by landslides in a valley near a Hindu shrine in the Indian Himalayas, days after floods killed more than 100 people.
Helicopters have ferried rescue workers and doctors along with equipment, food and medicine to Kedarnath in the state of Uttarakhand, the nearest town. Most of those stranded are Hindu pilgrims who were visiting four shrines.
Amit Chandola, a state spokesman, said authorities had so far been unable to reach eight villages feared washed away by the weekend floods in the worst-hit districts of Rudraprayag and Chamoli.
He said the official death toll in Uttarakhand state was 104 but added: "We don't know yet what happened to hundreds of people living there." An additional 17 people died in collapsed homes in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, said RL Vishwakarma, a state police officer.
Uttarakhand's chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna, told the New Delhi Television news channel that hundreds of people had lost their lives, but the exact number would be known only after a survey.
The flooding washed away roads and more than 20 bridges, demolished 365 houses and partially damaged a further 275 in Uttarakhand, the state government said.
Hundreds people looking for relatives flocked to Dehradun, the state capital, where flood survivors were taken by plane and helicopter.
Those rescued spoke to their stranded relatives on the phone on Wednesday.
India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who made an aerial survey of the region on Wednesday, said the death toll exceeded 100. "It is feared that the loss of life could be much higher," he said.
Bahuguna said the Kedarnath temple – one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the Garhwal Himalayan range – had escaped major damage, but up to four metres (10ft) of debris covered the area around it.
The latest rains have affected several states and the capital, Delhi, where nearly 2,000 people were evacuated to government-run camps on higher ground. Authorities there said the Yamuna river was expected to start receding on Thursday afternoon.
The large number of deaths appear to be the result of both man-made and natural causes. One of the worst-affected places was Kedarnath, which is 2.5 miles from the Chorabari glacier. According to reports the town was engulfed with what's being described as a two-storey high wave of ice, mud and water after a section of the glacier to collapse during torrential rail.
"At Kedarnath it was simply a natural disaster and not the result of human intervention," said Deb Mukherjee, a former Indian ambassador to Nepal. "Sustained rain far above the normal seems to have resulted in the collapse of natural structures high up in the mountain range."
But elsewhere the floods and landslides were being linked by environmentalists to the failure of provincial governments to devise a proper plan for the Himalayan region.
"Deforestation, sand mining, stone quarrying and unregulated and excessive construction of buildings have caused havoc to the environment in Uttarakhand," said Medha Patkar.
Scores of landslides and flood-swelled rivers swept away many homes and bridges. "Disturbingly, many of the houses had been built too close to rivers like the Mandakini are were swept away by the fury of the waters," said Mukherjee.