News / Asia

Relief Efforts Stepped Up After India Flooding

Damaged houses by River Ganges in Guptkashi, India, June 23, 2013.
Damaged houses by River Ganges in Guptkashi, India, June 23, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
Indian air force officials are expressing optimism that about 5,000 people still stranded in the flood-hit mountains of northern India will be evacuated over the next few days. More than a week after the disaster struck, the focus is turning to providing relief to thousands of people displaced by the disaster.
    
Arriving in Uttarakhand state a day after an air force helicopter on a rescue mission crashed, killing 20 people, Indian Air Force chief  N.A.K. Browne, said the “the rotors will not stop.”

“Literally, we are over the hump now," Browne said. "I think if we get three to four days of good weather, we should actually wrap it up in that period.”

More than 90,000 people have been rescued in the mountainous state, which was devastated by flash floods ten days ago after being lashed by the heaviest rainfall in 80 years. The massive mission has been led by air force and army personnel. 

Tuesday’s helicopter accident highlighted how challenging that operation has been. The helicopter hit a steep hillside and crashed into a river.

  • An Indian paramilitary soldier looks at the gate of an airport, covered with special announcements and pictures of missing people, in Jollygrant, India, June 26, 2013.
  • Locals unload wood from a truck to be loaded on to Indian Air force helicopters, in Gauchar, Uttarakhand, India, June 25, 2013.
  • Civilians get ready to load relief material for flood affected victims on a helicopter in Joshimath, Uttarakhand, India, June 24, 2013.
  • Commuters travel on a flooded road after a rise in the water levels of the Yamuna River in New Delhi, India, June 20, 2013.
  • People use a boat to cross a market along the banks of the Yamuna River, in New Delhi, India, June 19, 2013.
  • Rescuers help escort stranded pilgrims to helicopters to evacuate at Joshimath in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, June 19, 2013.
  • A submerged idol of Hindu Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 18, 2013.
  • A view of the Hindu holy town of Kedarnath from a helicopter after a flood, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 18, 2013.
  • People gather to watch a bridge submerged in the flooded water of the River Ganges in Rudraprayag, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 18, 2013.
  • An Indian soldier carries a stranded woman pilgrim to a safer area in Chamoli district, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 18, 2013.
  • Indian people walk on a road which caved in after incessant rains on Rishikesh-Mana highway near Joshimath district in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 17, 2013.
  • Indian army personnel distribute free food to stranded pilgrims after they were rescued from one of the worst flood affected regions in Govind Ghat, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, June 18, 2013.
Pilots have had to land their choppers on treacherous mountain terrain where there are no landing strips. Sorties have been carried out despite overcast skies, fog and rain in recent days. Army soldiers have raced to build makeshift tracks and rope bridges over raging rivers into towns and villages where all roads have been washed away. 

There is no accurate estimate of the death toll. It has been tentatively placed at 1,000, but officials say it could be much higher. Officials says it is difficult to estimate how many people are still waiting for help.

“Just as we think that we have finished in a certain area, we find many of the people the next day the numbers have increased because villagers are still stuck on the mountains," Browne said, "so they are coming down, but we will take it from day to day.”

The focus is now moving from rescue to providing relief for those who have lost their homes in the disaster.

A number of those caught in the disaster were Hindu devotees visiting four famous Hindu pilgrim sites in the state.

But with villages and small towns suffering widespread devastation, the local population has been badly hit, and is in need of food, clean water and medical help. Aid workers are trying to reach remote settlements, but with communication links heavily damaged, access to many areas poses a problem.
 
Aid agencies have also warned of the threat of epidemics if those who died in the disaster are not cremated soon. But bad weather has hampered plans to transport priests and firewood for mass cremations to Kedarnath, a pilgrim site where many bodies have been found.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs