Dharamshala: - The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)based in Dharamshala, India said it is 'deeply saddened by the devastating rain and flood that has affected tens of thousands of people in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand this week.'
'The disaster struck in the areas where hundreds of thousands of Indians from different parts of the country are on pilgrimage. Nearly 600 people were killed and the rescue efforts remain ongoing to lift thousands of stranded pilgrims,' CTA said in a statement.
"We offer our prayers and sympathy for the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have suffered injury or loss of property in this natural tragedy," CTA expressed.
The CTA sai that "as a gesture of solidarity with rescue efforts, the Central Tibetan Administration will contribute Rs. 3 lakh to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for the flood victims."
According to media reports, th annual monsoon rains hit Uttarakhand two weeks ahead of schedule last Sunday, and with unusual ferocity. Flash floods and landslides flattened the boomtown surrounding the centuries old Kedarnath Shrine and washed away or buried buildings in numerous towns and villages.'
A beautiful Himalayan region, the area draws tens of thousands of religious pilgrims each year from across India, especially during May and June, normally the peak of the north India's blistering summer heat.
Scientists say the volatility of the monsoon is likely to increase as a result of global warming, with more variable timing of their onset, and withdrawal, and more extreme patterns of precipitation, with higher levels of rain compressed into shorter time spans, followed by longer periods with no rains.
As stepped up rescue operations amid intermittent rains led to evacuation of more than 3,000 pilgrims and tourists out of the stranded 22,000 people, the state government said at least 5,000 people must have perished in Uttarakhand in the worst ever deluge to have struck the hill state.
"At least 5,000 people must have been killed in the deluge that inflicted heavy damage on vast tracts of land especially in Kedarnath valley," disaster management minister Yashpal Arya told reporters on Sunday at the Jollygrant airport on his return from an aerial survey of the affected areas. The official death toll as of Friday was put at 680 while chief minister Vijay Bahuguna said the death toll is likely to be around 1,000.
Helpline numbers for Uttarakhand (ANI)