Floods wreak havoc in India; over 150 dead
New Delhi, June 20, 2013
Thousands stranded in parts of northern India awaited rescuers as floods caused by heavier-than-usual monsoon rains killed at least 150 people in worst-hit Uttarakhand.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a 10-billion-rupee aid package for the state after he and Congress president Sonia Gandhi did an aerial survey of the flood-hit region.
“The government will not spare any effort in rescue and relief operations,” Singh said on his official Twitter account, adding the large-scale devastation they witnessed was “most distressing”.
“The priority for the authorities at the moment is to rescue the stranded and provide urgently needed succour to those most in need of it,” he said.
This year, the rains are at least twice as heavy in northwest and central India as the annual monsoon rains covered the whole country faster than usual.
Several newspapers on Wednesday splashed front-page photos of a popular shrine in Kedarnath that escaped nature’s fury and was intact despite structures nearby being swept away.
Congress MP Ajay Maken said 9,000 people have been rescued and nearly 5,600 soldiers had been deployed. “As weather improves, relief work intensifies and being monitored at all the levels,” Maken said on Twitter.
Politicians across party lines reacted with shock over the scale of destruction.
“Brave women of Uttarakhand – lost homes and all possessions. Having to build back from nothing. Unbelievable destruction,” Nirmala Sitharaman, a BJP spokeswoman, said on Twitter.
India is one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of grains and about 55 per cent of its farmland relies on the monsoon for water. Heavy rain early in the June-September monsoon season makes planting easier, but if flooding persists, stagnant water can delay sowing or damage early rice shoots.-Reuters