Over 45 dead, 127 injured in Uttarakhand in rain-related incidents in July

More than 45 people died in rain-related incidents in Uttarakhand in the month of July, an official said on Thursday as parts of the Himalayan state continued to be lashed by heavy rainfall.

State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) official Praveen Alok said, “Just in the month of July, 45 people died and 127 were injured in rain-related incidents while 61 rescue operations were conducted.” In July 2019, thirty six people had died in similar incidents and 71 people were injured in 46 rescue operations.

On Wednesday, two women died in Rudraprayag district after an SUV plunged into a gorge as the driver lost control of the vehicle in heavy rain. According to SDRF officials, one person was also injured in the accident and search is underway for a fourth passenger.

With continuous heavy rainfall, landslides and flash flood incidents have been reported from many parts of the state. The downpour has resulted in rising water levels of various rivers as well.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places in the state in the next 2-3 days.

Bikram Singh, director of the regional meteorological department in Dehradun, said in the hills, even 50 mm to 60 mm hourly rainfall can cause harm as water levels in streams rises, leading to flash floods.

According to the MeT department, Uttarakhand has already received 655.4mm of rainfall from June to August 12 compared to 750.7 mm (the normal range) for these months. Bageshwar district has received the maximum rainfall with a 168% departure from normal rainfall limit. The state is in an overall 13% rainfall deficit.

Piyoosh Rautela, executive director of Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre in Uttarakhand, said, “In the hills, the catchment area of even small streams is very large. These streams can be seasonal also, but during monsoons with heavy rainfall the water spills. This heavy rainfall leads to flash floods or rain-induced disasters.”

He also said that due to the topographical conditions, the likelihood of cloudbursts or flash floods happening in the hills is more compared to plains.

“The physiography or geomorphic conditions of the mountains is such that the wind gets a sudden upward thrust which leads to cloud formation. But due to the topography of mountains or valleys, in particular, the winds rise to form clouds and then rainfall occurs in a small area or the clouds get trapped in a valley amid mountains as the monsoon winds are not able to cross the topographic barriers (mountains). Due to this, the rainfall recorded in those areas is high leading to disasters,” said Rautela.

The incessant rainfall has resulted in landslides in some areas of the state leading to blocking of roads. Authorities have moved people to safer places in many parts while all district magistrates have been directed to take precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incidents.

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