India flood toll at 1,000; many missing

Basharat Peer / New York Times News Service /

Published Jun 23, 2013 at 05:00AM

NEW DELHI — Flash floods and landslides in northern India have killed at least 1,000 people in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in the past week, an official said Saturday, and with thousands missing or stranded the toll was expected to rise.

The official, Vijay Bahuguna, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, confirmed the latest toll in a meeting with reporters. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told the Indian news media Saturday that 40,000 people were still stranded, and he described the floods as a “national crisis.”

Most of the stranded were people on a pilgrimage known as Char Dham Yatra, which takes Hindus to four of the holiest shrines in Uttarakhand between May and November.

To aid rescue efforts in narrow mountainous valleys at altitudes as high as 11,000 feet above sea level, members of the Indian military have been pressed into service. By Saturday, the rivers and streams that run through the state had receded, but the floods had destroyed roads, bridges, electrical poles and communication networks.