Early monsoons created havoc in Northern India, killing more than 100 and stranding over 70,000 pilgrims and tourists in the Himalayan states of Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.
According to a report by Indian broadcaster NDTV, 73 buildings, including 40 hotels along the Alaknanda river—one of the two head-streams of Ganges—were swept away by the heavy flooding.
Many of those stranded are pilgrims from other regions of India who were on their way to four major Hindu shrines in the region, which they believe they must visit once in their lifetime. According to local media reports around 500 people, including 45 police officers went missing in the Kedarnath shrine area.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Indian National Congress Party Chief Sonia Gandhi are expected to visit flood affected area soon. Massive rescue operations have been deployed since the floods three days ago.
5000 Indian soldiers, 18 Indian Air Force Helicopters and many private choppers have been deployed to rescuing people, according to NDTV. Rescue operations have accelerated since the rain stopped on Tuesday and the Indian army had rescued 4000 stranded pilgrims in the last two days.
In neighbouring state Himachal Pradesh, 1500 tourist are reported stranded. Also the Chief Minister of the state,Virbhadra Singh, was stuck for 60 hours in rains and had to be airlifted as access roads were flooded.
The Yamuna river in Delhi is also reaching dangerous levels. Around 1500 people living in the river’s low lying areas in East Delhi have already been evacuated according to local media reports.
An high alert has been issued to other north Indian states in the floodplains of Ganges and Yamuna like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Uttarakhand Helpline numbers: 0135-2710334, 2710335, 2710233
Uttarakhand Government Website