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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More