65 killed, 60,000 pilgrims stranded in monsoon mayhem in northern India

Bulldozer and other vehicles are drifted in a flooded river in Uttarkashi district. PHOTO:ZEE NEWS
NEW DELHI, June 18 (Xinhua) -- At least 65 people have been killed while over 60,000 pilgrims stranded in northern India due to flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains since weekend, a senior police official said Tuesday.

"The worst affected is the northern state of Uttarakhand where some 40 people have been killed, 150 buildings collapsed and over 60,000 pilgrims on their way to Hindu shrines stranded as roads have been cut off by landslides caused by incessant rainfall since Sunday. Several people are also missing in the state," he said on condition of anonymity.

Local TV channels showed footage of rescue operations being carried out in Uttarakhand's most affected district of Uttarakashi by the Indian Army and para- military troopers, and helicopters flying out many stranded in the roads cut off by landslides.

The northern states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh bore the brunt of heavy rainfall. "In Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district, at least 10 people were killed in landslides, while rain-related incidents claimed 15 lives in Uttar Pradesh after the state's Saharanpur district was flooded, the official said, adding that efforts were made to airlift Himachal Pradesh's Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh stranded in the state's Sangla valley where he went to campaign for by-poll for a parliament seat.

Meanwhile, the Indian capital has been put on flood alert after its main Yamuna river breached the danger mark following incessant rainfall since Sunday. "Several people stranded on the banks of the river have been rescued and disaster management authority is keeping an eye on the situation," a senior government official said, adding more rains are expected.

The monsoon, which lasts from June to September and is critical to India's farming output, has hit the national capital a fortnight earlier than ususal.

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