Rescue teams were in a race against time Saturday to rescue thousands of people stranded in the area of Uttarakhand that has been inundated with rain. The death toll from India’s flash floods and subsequent landslides is nearly 600.
Scores of lifeless bodies were recovered by rescuers from the rain-swollen Ganges River. The India government said over 30,000 people had been stranded following the torrential rains that hit Uttarakhand, the Himalayan state last week.
The swollen rivers raged and swept houses, buildings and sometimes entire villages in their wake. Bridges and roads were destroyed that led to towns in the state, which is referred to as the Land of the Gods due to its many Hindu shrines.
The country’s Home Minister arrived in the state’s capital of Dehradun Saturday morning and said that more than 73,000 people were rescued thus far with another 32,000 still stranded.
The minister told reporters that 550 people died and another 392 had been injured. They urged local authorities to finish the work in rescuing the people within the next 72 hours since another sets of rains were expected.
Thousand of military soldiers and dozens of helicopters were deployed to help in the rescue across the devastated state of which much is under water.
Images from the television showed military paratroopers rappelling form choppers to help in the rescues.
Rescue teams said more downpours were due to hit the state on Sunday and could cause problems with the rescue and add further problems to the already swollen rivers and saturated ground.
On Saturday 20 trekkers, of which six were Americans were successfully rescued after becoming marooned close to a glacier since last week when the rains started.