Floods continue to ravage India, death toll crosses more than 1,000

Tuesday 20th August 2019 16:25 EDT

After heavy rains pummelled southern India, the monsoon mayhem continues to wreck havoc in the northern region, including Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Punjab. At least 38 people were killed in these states. A flood alert has been issued by India Meteorological Department (IMD) in parts of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Uttarakhand received 34.2mm average rainfall against a normal of 13.2mm, recording a surplus of 159%. Nainital district recorded 64.5mm rain, highest in the state. Hundreds of hectares of agriculture land has been washed away and dozens of cattle were feared dead. Water, electricity and communication facilities are also been hit. Most rivers were in spate, with the Ganga crossing the danger mark in Haridwar and flowing close to it in Rishikesh. Rescue operations were undertaken by the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), SDRF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and district administration. While the Indian Air Force helicopters carried rescue operations in Jammu and Karnal districts, the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through traditional Lipulekh route was halted due to landslides on the route.

Himachal Pradesh also received its highest ever single-day rainfall, recording an average of 102.5mm on Sunday, 1,065% higher than normal. Around 670 roads across the state, including 13 national highways, have been blocked by landslides or flash floods, or have been washed away, including six bridges. Over 500 people were stranded. “The total loss to the property in the state has been assessed at £49 million,” chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said.

A total of 10 people have been killed in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district. Dozens of homes were washed away after a cloudburst leaving many tourists and residents stranded in some villages. Helicopters were pressed into service to take relief material and essential medicines to people. Rescue operations are undertaken in affected areas after the improvement in weather, with state police, ITBP, PAC and SDRF personnel engaged in the exercise, said Disaster Management Secretary Amit Negi and IG SDRF Sanjay Gunjyal.

Over 10,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in Delhi as the water level in the Yamuna river crossed the danger mark. According to a Delhi government official, the river is flowing at 205.36 metres, just above the danger mark of 205.33 metres. The official said that the water level is expected to rise further as Haryana released 1.43 lakh cusec water on Monday. The Yamuna flows through six districts of Delhi whose low-lying areas are prone to flooding. The administration has deployed 30 boats to prevent accidental drowning. A flood-like situation prevailed in many parts of Punjab and Haryana, where the IAF rescued nine people from flooded areas.

The Punjab government declared the current flood situation in the affected villages of the state as a natural calamity. Floods were reported from areas like Rupnagar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Pathankot. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has directed all the deputy commissioners in the state to be prepared to deal with any emergency in view of the warning from the IMD and ensure safety and security of the people in the event of any untoward situation. Singh also announced £10 million for emergency relief and rehabilitation measures in affected regions. Several rivers including the Ganga, Yamuna and Ghaghra were in spate in Uttar Pradesh due to heavy rains in neighbouring states, leading to floods in low-lying areas that left one person dead. Light to heavy rains also lashed parts of Rajasthan.

As per the reports, the flood fury across much of India has already claimed 1,058 lives this monsoon, close to last year’s overall toll of 1,211. Most number of death is recorded in Maharashtra, where floods have caused extraordinary damage. According to the home ministry assessment, Maharashtra has registered maximum death of 245 people due to flood-related incidents, followed by Kerala (155), West Bengal (154), Bihar (130), Gujarat (107) and 94 in Assam. So far, over 18,00,000 people have been rescued across India by state and central agencies. In 152 districts, over 7,800 relief camps have been opened to give shelter to flood-affected people.

The Centre has deployed 101 NDRF teams and 57 from Army, IAF and Navy along with six copters.

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