Efforts to reach and rescue tens of thousands of people stranded in northern India intensified Monday, with the death toll from the devastation left by monsoon floods and landslides expected to rise.
Thousands were feared missing after monsoon rains triggered flash floods and landslides that washed away homes, buildings, roads and bridges in the mountainous region, particularly in hardest-hit Uttarakhand state.
Military helicopters were commissioned to drop food and drinking water to inaccessible areas as rescuers, including thousands of military servicemen and volunteers, whose movements were confounded by blocked roads and destroyed bridges.
About 33,000 people had been rescued so far this week, federal Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, while approximately 50,000 people are left with diminishing supplies, reports The Associated Press.
The confirmed death toll from the disaster reached 560 but is expected to rise significantly as troops reach remote areas where whole villages were known to have been swept away in the floods.
The opposition and frustrated relatives of families in Uttarakhand accused the government of not doing enough and said the different organizations lack coordination in rescue operations.
“It is very unfortunate that the government cannot coordinate the rescue efforts and provide timely help to the survivors of this calamity,” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party told reporters.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered 200,000 rupees to the family of each of those who lost their lives and 50,000 rupees to the injured, reports Reuters.