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Indian gov't intensifies rescue, relief operation in flood-ravaged northern state


08:33, June 21, 2013

NEW DELHI, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Indian government Thursday intensified rescue and relief operations in the northern state of Uttarakhand, where hundreds are believed to have been killed by a massive flooding caused by an early monsoon, said government officials.

Hundreds of pilgrims were evacuated by choppers from a 1,000- year-old old Hindu holy site, the Kedarnath town.

The government has dispatched over 20 choppers to pick up stranded people.

At least 50,000 people were still stranded in various parts of the state that was hit by cloudburst and floods in the upper reaches which left several hundreds of homes, rest houses and buildings in ruins and thousands of people missing, said Press Trust of India.

While official counts of toll stood at around 150, the state's chief minister Vijay Bahuguna said the casualties could run into several hundreds.

Bit government officials feared the causalities could run into thousands as about 90 Hindu resting places for pilgrims were swept away by flash floods over the past week.

The monsoon arrived two weeks earlier than before, taking government by surprise last weekend.

Apart from Uttarakhand, the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana also reported dozens of flood-related deaths.

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