At least 25 fatalities were reported Wednesday in the rain-battered northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, taking the overall death count from this monsoon’s relentless rain, landslides and flash floods in the region to 116.
UP registered the most deaths at 13 in the past 24 hours. “Nine people drowned, while lightning strike, snakebite and house collapse killed one each,” said an official. The weather office issued a “yellow” alert for 58 districts, predicting heavy rainfall Thursday.
300 people stranded at Chandratal Lake in Lahaul and Spiti
Amid the growing death toll, rescue and evacuation efforts gained pace, especially in Himachal, the worst-hit state. Around 25,000 people stranded in Kullu district, including around 3,000 in the Kasol area, have been evacuated safely, CM
Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu
said. Among them were 52 schoolchildren stuck at Sissu in Lahaul and 70 girls from colleges of Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) in Haryana’s Jind, who were marooned in Solang valley as landslides blocked the road to Manali.
But rescuing nearly 300 people, mostly tourists, from tented camps near Chandratal lake, located at an altitude of 14,100 feet in Lahaul and Spiti district, has been facing various challenges because of bad weather the past four days. Teams were working in sub-zero temperature and in 3-4 feet of snow to repair the road leading to Chandratal. Around 12km of the road was restored Tuesday, another 25km remained.
Relief camps have been opened at various places for people who lost their homes in the flooding and landslides. A total of 873 roads are still blocked for traffic and 1,956 transformers and 1,369 water supply schemes are disrupted in the state.
Authorities used helicopters to rescue people, while bridges and houses were swept away in Himachal. NDRF rescuers fixed zip lines to help people wearing safety harnesses cross the swollen Beas river during evacuation drives. Streets across the northern states, including in Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand were flooded. In some areas, rescue personnel used rubber rafts to evacuate people trapped inside their homes.
Portion of Gangotri NH washes away, restoration work in progress
Landslides triggered by heavy rain disrupted traffic on key highways in Uttarakhand, prompting warnings for residents not to venture out of their homes unless necessary. The state reported one death when a car with five people skidded off the road in blinding rain and fell into the Khoh river in Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district. SDRF personnel said two people survived, one died and another two were missing.
Rescue crews were racing to evacuate survivors as the rain overwhelmed hundreds of villages in Dehradun and Haridwar districts. The Ganga was flowing close to the danger mark in both Haridwar and Rishikesh. Over 250 roads remained blocked across Uttarakhand, including the Gangotri, Yamunotri and Gangotri highways.
Flash floods continued to wreak havoc in more than 1,000 villages and various towns and cities across 14 districts of the state, which recorded at least 11 deaths till Wednesday. Three people lost their lives in Faridkot district; two each in Ropar, Fatehgarh
and Mohali districts; and one each in Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts. A person each has been reported missing from Moga, Mohali, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Nawanshahr districts.
Flood alerts have been sounded in Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts of the Majha region. Army rescued over 400 residents of Ghanie Ke Bet village situated along the Ravi river in Gurdaspur. Hundreds of acres in several villages of Sangrur district were inundated after the Ghaggar river breached its banks in three places.
The state government has set up 127 relief camps across the state with the highest number of 33 in Jalandhar, 22 in Mohali and 18 in Ferozepur. As many as 13,574 people have been shifted to safer places by NDRF, SDRF, state police and Army rescuers.
In neighbouring Haryana, the death toll in rain-related accidents increased to 11 as four more bodies were found Thursday in Ambala.
The flood alarm went out in western UP as Ganga and Yamuna were flowing above the danger level in Saharanpur and Shamli districts. “Around 1.9 lakh cusecs of water has been released in Yamuna on Wednesday,” said Ashu Kumar, junior engineer at the irrigation department. In Bijnor district, officials were keeping a close watch on the rising waters of the Ganga.