At least 18 people were killed missing as torrential rains triggered flashfloods and landslides in Uttarahand, officials said on Friday, underlining the vulnerability of hill states to weather extremes.
While “18 to 20” people were killed in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli and Pithoragarh since Thursday.
In Uttarakhand, pounded by torrential rains since Thursday night, the toll is likely to increase, chief minister Harish Rawat said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives and hoped normalcy would return at the earliest.
I am grieved by the loss of lives caused due to cloudburst & heavy rain in parts of Uttarakhand. Condolences to bereaved families: PM— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 1, 2016
My prayers are with those injured. I hope normalcy returns to the rain-affected areas at the earliest: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) July 1, 2016
The death and destruction in Chamoli and Pithoragarh came just over three years after more than 5,000 people were killed when the Kedar valley was hit by a similar cloudburst, a term used to describe highly concentrated rainfall over a small area and lasting for a few minutes to few hours.
In Dehradun, officials put the number of confirmed deaths at 11 based on the number of bodies recovered.
Rawat announced Rs two lakh as ex-gratia to the next kin of each dead.
Rescue workers used helicopters to shift the injured to hospitals but were hampered due to poor visibility, officials said.
A team of the Natural Disaster Response Force (NDRF) could not reach the disaster sites – around 180 kms apart – as choppers could not land due to bad weather.
“We have recorded 12 cm rain in the 24 hours in Kapkot (Pithoragarh),” said Vikram Singh, the state metrological department head. The met office also issued warning for heavy rains in some parts of the state in the next 48 hours.
(With inputs from HTC, New Delhi )