Torrential rains and flash floods washed away homes and roads in north India, leaving at least feared 60 people dead and thousands stranded, as the annual monsoon hit the country earlier than normal, officials said on Tuesday.
Authorities called in military helicopters to try to rescue residents and pilgrims cut off by rising rivers and landslides triggered by more than three days of rain in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, officials said. "We are unable to confirm the number of deaths since most of the communication lines have broken down across the state," the state minister for disaster and relief said. "But at least 60 people are feared dead and nearly 50,000 are stranded," Yashpal Arya told AFP.
Among those killed were four members of the same family, who died when their home was hit by a landslide as they slept, in Kasta village near the state capital of Dehradun, local officials said. Television footage showed bridges, houses and multi-storied buildings crashing down and being washed away by the swirling waters.
A swollen river is seen engulfing a giant statue of Lord Shiva in the tourist hub of Rishikesh.
Rising water levels in some towns have also swept up cars, earthmoving equipment and even a parked helicopter, as a result of the surprise rains which have lashed the state since Saturday.
Roads in many areas have been destroyed, leaving hundreds of pilgrims stranded on their way to visit shrines in remote areas.
Yamuna in spate in Delhi
The Yamuna river is flowing over the danger mark in the national capital, an official said on Tuesday.
The Delhi government Monday began evacuating people from low-lying areas along the banks of the Yamuna.