World

India flood death toll passes 1,000

Bad weather is hampering efforts to evacuate thousands of people stranded in India's northern state of Uttarakhand, where at least 1,000 people have died in monsoon flooding and landslides, army officials said.

Thousands still stranded as bad weather hampers rescue efforts

About 10,000 army and paramilitary troops have participated in six days of evacuation and relief efforts. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Bad weather on Sunday hampered efforts to evacuate thousands of people stranded in India's northern state of Uttarakhand, where at least 1,000 people have died in monsoon flooding and landslides, army officials said.

Tens of thousands of people remained stranded in high mountain passes and temple towns in Uttarakhand after torrential rains washed away homes and roads and triggered landslides that cut off communication links with large parts of the state nearly a week ago.

While helicopters have been an essential part of the rescue effort, the army suspended helicopter flights to rescue stranded people after dense fog descended on the Himalayan region.

Indian troops built makeshift bridges to aid evacuations after poor weather forced suspension of helicopter flights. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Instead, troops built makeshift bridges and people were being rescued by road, the army said.

About 10,000 army and paramilitary troops, members of the disaster management agency and volunteers have taken part in six days of rescue and relief efforts.

The army rescued more than 80,000 people by road and air, according to a state government spokesman.

The exact number of people who died in the heavy downpours and flooding of the Ganges River and its tributaries won't be known until rescue efforts end.

But the state's chief minister told reporters late on Saturday that the death toll had reached one-thousand.

Hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus make a pilgrimage to Uttarakhand during the summer months, to visit four of Hinduism's holiest shrines in the state.

The tourists usually head down to the plains before the monsoon breaks in July.

But this year, the early rains caught hundreds of thousands of tourists, pilgrims and local residents.

The rains in Uttarakhand were said to have been the heaviest in nearly 80 years and more rain was expected in the worst-hit Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts over the next few days.

now