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Death toll from N Indian flood rises to 550

Updated: 2013-06-22 13:39
( Xinhua)

Death toll from N Indian flood rises to 550

People and soldiers cover their faces as an army helicopter lands during rescue operations at Badrinath in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand June 21, 2013. Early monsoon rains have swollen the Ganges, India's longest river, swept away houses, killed people and left tens of thousands stranded, local newspapers reported. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW DELHI - The official toll from the flash flood in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand has risen to 550, and over 50,000 people are stranded, the state chief said Friday evening.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna confirmed that the death toll has doubled to over 550.

Floods and landslides, triggered by heavy rainfall, hit northern India Sunday, with Uttarakhand being the worst affected state where hundreds of buildings were washed away. And those killed included local residents as well as pilgrims visiting the state.

The Home Minister Shinde, who is to visit the flood-hit areas Saturday, said the death toll could rise further, though rains have stopped in the state famous for its several pilgrimage spots.

The Indian military has been continuing its rescue operations.

Apart from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh releasing millions of rupees for floods relief, the country's ruling Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has asked the party's Members of Parliament and state legislators to contribute their one month salary for Uttarakhand's natural calamity.

However, the Indian media say that the floods are "man-made," due to rampant construction, mining and massive power projects in the northern states.

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