THRISSUR, India (CNS) — Church charity groups in India joined security personnel in rescue and relief work for hundreds of thousands of people affected by flash floods and massive landslides in northeastern India’s Uttarakhand state. “Now they are saying the number of those killed could be more than 1,000, but, seeing the devastation, I would say it (death-toll) will be several thousands more,” Bishop John Vadakel of Bijnor, whose diocese covers the disaster-struck area, told Catholic News Service. Bishop Vadakel spoke to CNS June 25 from Bijnor, after he was stranded for two days at Srinagar because of roads blocked due to fresh landslides.
A senior federal government official overseeing relief and rescue operations in the affected region was quoted by the Times of India June 25 as saying he would not be surprised if the final death toll were “anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000.” Bishop Vadakel said: “I could see many houses and buildings on the river banks covered with mud and silt.” Incessant rains in mid-June in the mountainous region triggered massive flash floods, and a reservoir burst. Beginning June 16, three major rivers flowing down the Himalayas gathered momentum and washed away nearly everything in their paths.