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Army makes herculean effort to rescue thousands stranded in flood-hit Uttarakhand

Dehradun, Reuters | Updated : 22 June 2013, 09:25 AM

India's government has mobilized the army to rescue thousands of people stranded by flooding and landslides in the Himalayan mountains in Uttarakhand state.

Local media have reported that more than 1,000 people were killed as a result of heavier than usual monsoon rains.

Supplies wait at Uttarakhand's Gaurikund airport, to be airlifted to areas that have become impassable after mud slid off the hills taking buildings and vegetation with it and blocking roads.

Army pilot Major Anand cancelled his wedding anniversary to help.

"I cannot walk away from my duty. I can't use such insignificant excuses (my wedding anniversary) to get out of my responsibilities. Work comes first. Moreover, my anniversary is meaningless in the face of the catastrophe facing the nation," said Anand who was due to celebrate his four years of marriage.

The rescued are grateful for the army's herculean effort.
Some survivors told the television station NDTV that they had no food for the five days they were stranded.

The minister of information said on Friday that 33,000 pilgrims and tourists have been evacuated to safe ground and some are staying in camps set up by the defence forces.

"It was very difficult to survive there. We would have died if the Army had not rescued us," said Govind Pandey, who was stranded for several days.

"The Army personnel have helped us a lot. They have saved our lives," says one elderly man, Rajkumar Sharma.

Television reports said a rescue helicopter crashed in Uttarakhand on Friday evening. No casualties were reported.

But the accident will not stop the army from flying in and out of the affected areas to rescue as many people as they can as quickly as they can.

Weather office sources said the monsoon rains, which came early and hit 89 percent over averages in the week to June 19, could ease soon.

This year's monsoon has drenched the country in record time, almost a month ahead of schedule.

First Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013 09:22 AM
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