Over 80 people die in Northern India flash floods
By Andrea Rego
Parts of Northern India, especially the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand situated at the foothills of the Himalayas have been experiencing flash floods that have claimed lives and displaced residents from their homes.
Himachal Pradesh and its neighbouring states are experiencing the worst torrential rains in the last 50 years and it is feared the death toll will rise.
Alerts issued by the Meteorological Department
On 22 August, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued an “orange” alert for heavy to very heavy rainfall or thunderstorm and lightning over Himachal Pradesh during 22 to 25 August.
In particular, districts Chamba and Mandi were warned about flash floods in catchment areas and predicted cloudbursts till August 26.
Across the Himalayan region, very heavy rainfall is expected over northern parts of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. IMD also issued an alert for extremely heavy rainfall over Uttarakhand on 23 and 24 August, 2023.
On August 18, the government of Himachal Pradesh declared the massive damage caused by heavy rains as a state calamity. In view of the damage caused to human life and property, the hill state has been declared as a “natural calamity affected area.”
The landslides and flash floods have submerged roads, washed away buildings and endangered the lives of residents. Shimla, Himachal Pradesh’s capital and districts Kangra and Mandi have been drastically affected.
Damaged caused by floods
The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported that 72 deaths occurred during last week in a span of five days when rescue operations were ongoing.
Last month, more than 100 people lost their lives over the span of two weeks in the Himalayan regions of Northern India, especially Himachal Pradesh which was the worst affected state.
The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, told PTI about plans for recovery from the aftermath of the torrential rains and said it would take over a year to rebuild all the damaged infrastructure.
He claimed that the losses incurred are estimated to be about 120 crore rupees (1.2 billion USD). “It is a big challenge, a mountain-like challenge,” he said, in view of the state being a central region for tourism.
Currently, many roads are blocked and schools are shut as the Indian Air Force (IAF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are rescuing and evacuating people from low-lying and vulnerable regions.
Rescue operations in progress
In a Press Release the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) India announced the deployment of NDRF teams equipped with all necessary safety and rescue tools to conduct rescue and relief operations.
Since the 14 of August, NDRF has rescued around 960 flood victims and evacuated more than 10,363 people from the worst affected regions. As a precaution to tackle an unprecedented situation, additional teams are kept on standby in these sates.
A round the clock NDRF control room is closely monitoring the situation in close coordination with state and district administrations.
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