Indian floods strand thousands

GOVINDGHAT, INDIA — Soldiers were working to evacuate tens of thousands of people still stranded on Saturday in northern India where nearly 600 people have been killed in monsoon flooding and landslides.

Indian pilgrims wait to be evacuated by helicopters from the upper reaches of mountains in Gaurikund in the northern Indian state of Uttrakhand. (AP Photo)

With bad weather and heavy rainfall predicted over the next two days, there was an added urgency to reach the approximately 50,000 people still stranded in the flood-hit Uttarakhand state, federal Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.

Since helicopters could rescue only small groups of people at a time, Shinde said army troops were opening up another road route to the Hindu temple town of Kedarnath, worst hit by the floods.

More than 250 people have taken shelter in Kedarnath's main temple and are waiting to be rescued, he said.

Shinde said air force helicopters were dropping food and drinking water to those stranded in inaccessible areas. More than 30,000 people have been rescued from the worst-hit districts over the past five days.

Thousands of homes have been washed away or damaged in the state.

People across India are collecting clothes, blankets and tarpaulins and contributing money to help those left homeless in Uttarakhand.

Google has launched an application, Person Finder, to help trace missing people in Uttarakhand. The version is available in both Hindi and English languages, according to a Google India blog.

Monsoon flooding is an annual occurrence in India, causing enormous loss of life and property, and hundreds of people were missing and feared washed away in this week's torrential monsoon downpours and flash floods in the tributaries of the Ganges River.

Related search: India, floods, Uttarakhand

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Writer: Associated Press