News / Asia

    Bad Weather Hampers India Flood Rescue Effort

    Indian army soldier helps an injured Indian pilgrim after she was rescued from the higher reaches of mountains, at a makeshift helipad at Joshimath, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 24, 2013.
    Indian army soldier helps an injured Indian pilgrim after she was rescued from the higher reaches of mountains, at a makeshift helipad at Joshimath, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 24, 2013.
    Anjana Pasricha
    In North India, bad weather is hampering efforts to rescue tens of thousands of people stranded in a Himalayan state following flash floods. The death toll in the disaster has climbed to 560, but many people are still missing, raising fears that the toll will mount higher. 

    Heavy cloud, mist and intermittent rains hampered the operation to airlift people from the worst-hit areas in Uttarakhand state. Soldiers focused on restoring bridges and repairing access routes as they raced to bring survivors to safety amid forecasts of more downpours in the coming days.

    Priests are being asked to begin mass cremation of the victims in the town of Kedarnath - a pilgrim spot that was among the worst hit areas.  

    It has been a week since heavy monsoon rains caused widespread devastation in the Himalayan region, washing away roads, bridges and entire villages.
     
    About 80,000 people have been rescued so far. Many recounted distressing experiences of doing without food and shelter for days.

    But thousands remain stranded, while an unknown number are missing. Relatives are desperately searching for family members.  

    V.K. Duggal, a senior official of the National Disaster Management Authority in New Delhi, denied charges of a slow response to the disaster. 

    “Really speaking there are no major gaps in coordination. And all agencies are doing their very best to make sure that the relief and rescue operations moves smoothly and at as good a speed as possible," Duggal said. "There may be some impediments of weather, this, that, but when you have a problem of this massive size, at the operational level, there will be some plusses and minuses.”

    Many charities have rushed volunteers to the region to supplement the official rescue and relief operation.  Among them is Save the Children, which has sent in a team to assist people displaced by the floods.

    Latha Caleb, head of the charity's operations in India, said people in many areas are running out of food rations and need shelter and warm clothing. But she said even accessing the flood-hit regions is posing a challenge for volunteers.

    “They themselves have had to abandon vehicles, move on foot and take other vehicles after a point of time," Caleb explained. "Most of the communities are taking shelter in buildings that are kind of precariously standing there. There is no food, no water and there is a big need for medical help."

    There were tens of thousands of visitors in the state when the disaster struck.  Uttarakhand is home to four revered Hindu shrines, and is also a popular tourist destination for people seeking to escape the sweltering heat of the plains during the summer holidays.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora