7,000 people still stranded in flood-hit northern India

2013-06-26 01:31:59 GMT2013-06-26 09:31:59(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

More than 7,000 people are still stranded in the mountains of Uttarakhand, nearly nine days after monsoon floods swept through the northern Indian state.

The floods killed hundreds and washed away towns and roads.

Indian authorities on Tuesday said that bad weather since Monday morning has been hampering rescue operations in the difficult terrains of the hilly state where the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been operating over 50 helicopters to evacuate people stranded in the mountains.

"So far, over 85,000 people, mostly Hindu pilgrims, have been rescued. Some 7,000 people are still waiting to be evacuated as rainfall and fresh landslides across the state have been off and on hampering rescue operations," a senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

He also said that the Indian Air Force has also deployed special commandos in rescue operations in Uttarakhand. "The commandos are being pressed into service so that the air evacuation operations are not suspended fully due to bad weather," the official added.

Meanwhile, state's Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya Uttarakhand, who had earlier put the death toll at 5,000, despite nearly 8,000 being feared killed, said: "The enormity of disaster is so big that the toll could be more than the present figure. The picture is likely to be more clear in coming days."

Uttarkhand, popular among Hindu pilgrims for a number of holy shrines and rivers, was hit by what's being termed as the " Himalayan tsunami" on June 16. The state is said to have received the heaviest monsoon rains in the last 60 years.

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