Himalaya Tsunami creates havoc in North India, death toll crosses 1,000

Report
from DanChurchAid
Published on 25 Jun 2013 View Original

Over 1000 people are feared dead and more than 50,000 still remain stranded in north India due to floods and landslide triggered by incessant rainfall. Uttarakhand - a famous pilgrimage spot in India has been affected the most by this disaster.

25.06.2013

North India usually gets its monsoon spells in mid-June but it is not until July that it sees intense rainfall. This time, however, unprecedented heavy rainfall 20 days ahead of the normal time has wrecked havoc in the region. Over 1000 people are feared dead and thousands have been displaced. Even a week after the heavy downpour, over 50,000 people still remain stranded in the area waiting to be rescued.

Property worth millions has been swept away, national highways are blocked and infrastructure has been damaged and all communication networks have been destroyed in some places due to massive floods and landslides.

According to weather forecasts, the worst affected areas will see still see heavy downpour for the next two days. Fresh landslides have been observed in the area making the rescue operations further difficult. According to reports from our partner agency CASA, which is directly working on the ground, the army is struggling to rescue tens of thousands of visitors and pilgrims to safer places. Some 50,000 people remain stranded and 14,000 are missing, with others mourning loss of family.

The government of India has termed this disaster as the “Himalayan Tsunami and has been carrying out relief and rescue operations on war-footing with the help of the army, other security forces and non-government agencies. The inter-agency group, which DCA is a part of, has deployed staff in the affected areas for search, rescue and information collection. Despite all efforts, the most remote and most affected areas are completely cut off from the rest of the world as infrastructures have been completely damaged. The number of casualties is expected to rise much more once these areas become accessible.

Neighboring Nepal also saw a massive flood this week in its far-western districts that claimed over forty lives and displaced hundreds. Four districts in Nepal have been declared highly disaster affected by the government. The district headquarters of Darchula district – Khalanga was the most affected by these floods and still remains inaccessible. Rescue and relief operation have been initiated by the government and are underway with the support from different government and non-government agency.

DCA and partner’s intervention

DCAs partner CASA is working on the ground in India and conducting need and damage assessment. CASA has already begun offering emergency meals for about 500 hill people at government-run shelters and would escalate relief once funds arrive. Food and shelter materials such will be distributed after the completion of the need assessment and availability of funds.

“These are people really in need but we need some assurance of funds. So much needs to be done. We would like to set up temporary kitchens at the relief camps, and offer temporary shelter, tarpaulins that can guard against the rain”, says Nirmal Singh-Head of Emergency at CASA.

CASA is working in worst-affected Rudraprayag district, which is laced with networks of rivers and streams running downstream. “Here it gets a bit dicey; the water comes down with force. We really don’t know how many people have been affected. Looking at the shrines damaged in the towns, the hotels, public infrastructure, we can see a lot of damage although few assessment teams are getting to the villages and hamlets in the hills”, says Singh.

In Nepal, DCA’s partners LWF and FAYA have sent their staff to the affected areas for need and damage assessment and stakeholder mapping. They have also been working closely with District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC) in the respective districts for preparing a response plan.

DCA is constantly monitoring the situation closely in both the countries and will be responding on the basis of need assessment reports received from the field through our partners.