India – Dozens Dead or Missing After Floods Hit Northern States

Heavy rains in northern parts of India have left dozens dead or missing in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab. Meanwhile levels of the Yamuna River have increased, prompting flood warnings in the state of Haryana and Delhi. Elsewhere, in Andhra Pradesh the swollen Krishna river has inundated 87 villages and wide areas of farm land in the two districts of Krishna and Guntur.

Teams from India’s NDRF evacaute flood victims in Punjab, August 2019. Photo: NDRF

Himachal Pradesh

Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, said that 18 people died in rain- and flood-related incidents in 24 hours to 18 August.

Heavy rain hit the state from 17 August, with Naina Devi in Bilaspur district recording 360mm in 24 hours to 18 August and Berthin 240mm during the same period.

Press Trust of India (PTI) reported that 8 people died in Shimla, 2 each in Kullu, Sirmaur, Solan and Chamba and 1 each in Una and Lahaul-Spiti districts. Many of the deaths were a result of collapsed buildings.

The Chief Minister warned “I urge the people of the state not to go near the river drains, take precautions and cooperate with the administration.”

India’s Central Water Commission (CWC) reported that the Yamuna River was rising at Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur district along the border with Uttarakhand. As of 18 August the river was flowing at 384.1 metres, close to the danger mark of 384.5 metres. The Girita Kheri river, also in Sirmaur is rising rapidly, according to CWC reports.

CWC also reported that a landslide had caused an artificial lake to form on the Jabbar khad river near Basa Dabialan village in Nurpur Tehsil, Kangra district.

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In the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand, intense rainfall caused buildings to collapse as well as flooding, debris flows and landslides.

The worst hit area was in Mori tehsil, Uttarkashi district, where several houses were destroyed leaving dozens missing after the Tons river in Mori broke its banks.

Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) said that roads washed away by floods or blocked by landslides have hindered access to the affected areas.  SDMA said, “despite road blockade on all sides teams of Police, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre (DMMC), Health, and administration have managed to reach the affect area and have established the base at Arakot.”

“Provisions for relief camps and medical assistance have already been dispatched from Dehradun.” the authority added.

Flooding has also affected parts of Dehradun district, where the Tons river is rising rapidly. PTI reported that a woman was washed away in when her car fell into a seasonal river. Elsewhere in the state, police and military said they carried out flood rescues in Kotdwar, Garhwal district after the Sukharo river (Khoh river tributary) broke its banks.

Military and police rescue people from floods in Uttarakhand, India, 18 August 2019. Photo: Uttarakhand Police

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In Punjab, flooding was reported in several districts after heavy rain from 17 August. Indian Meteorological Department reported that 270 mm of rain fell in Balachaur, Nawanshahr district in a 24 hour period to 18 August.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were operating in Jalandhar and Rupnagar carrying out evacuations and rescues. PTI said that flooding was also reported in Fatehgarh Sahib and Pathankot. Three people reportedly died when the roof of their house collapsed.

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Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh the swollen Krishna river has inundated 87 villages and wide areas of farm land in the two districts of Krishna and Guntur. Almost 12,000 people have been moved from low-lying areas and into 56 relief camps. At least 2 people are thought to have died in the recent flooding.

CWC reported that, as of 18 August, the Lower Krishna river at Avanigadda in Krishna district stood at 9.2 metres, above warning level (9 metres) but below the danger mark of 11 metres.

Haryana and National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT)

CWC issued a Flood Alert for the Yamuna river in Haryana state. The commission said “Discharge passed from Hathnikund Barrage was 814,397 cusecs at 17:00 hours on 18.08.2019. This is highest discharge released from Hathnikund Barrage till date.”

The Hathni Kund is located in Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana, about 200km upstream from India’s capital Delhi, a city of some 19 million people. The release at Hathni Kund will increase levels of rivers downstream in Delhi and CWC warned that the Yamuna is likely to cross the 207 metre mark at Delhi Railway Bridge over the coming days.

The highest level reached at this location is 207.48 metres, a record set in September 1978. As of 18 August, 2019, the Yamuna stood at 203.37 metres at Delhi Railway Bridge, under the danger level of 204.83 metres.

The overflowing Yamuna caused flooding in parts of Delhi during this time last year prompting the evacuations of around 10,000 people. The Yamuna river at Delhi Railway Bridge in North district stood at 206.05 metres on 31 July.

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