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In India, Adventist humanitarians poised to assist flood victims

Early monsoon season strands thousands at Hindu religious sites

In India, Adventist humanitarians poised to assist flood victims

Flash floods and landslides triggered by 60 hours of nonstop monsoon rains swept through communities in northern India last week. Government officials and humanitarians, among them Adventists, are battling ongoing bad weather and blocked roads to assess needs. [photo: ADRA India]

Seventh-day Adventist humanitarians in northern India are monitoring needs and preparing emergency relief in the wake of an unprecedented monsoon season in the region.

The torrential rains arrived a month early this year, triggering flash floods and landslides that swept through mountain communities and religious sites. The monsoons destroyed homes and business, killed more than 1,000 people, and stranded tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists visiting Hindu shrines in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, according to news reports.

While government and relief agency efforts so far are centered in the town of Uttarkashi, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in India is preparing emergency assistance for Rudraprayag district, where 20 riverside villages were severely affected, said Gladwin Bol, emergency response coordinator for ADRA India.

“These local communities have lost everything – their homes, land, livelihood and belongings,” Bol said. Other nearby villages remain inaccessible due to ongoing inclement weather and blocked roads, he said.

“We will be able to move to the area as soon as we get clearance,” he said.

ADRA India is prepared to provide utensils, blankets, clothes, mosquito nets, hygiene items, tarps, buckets and other relief items, Bol said.

Meanwhile, local officials have set up 40 relief camps to provide food, water and other emergency aid to tourists and locals, according to an ADRA Situation Report. News reports indicate that military helicopters have also rescued an estimated 30,000 stranded people, but bad weather continues to thwart efforts.

Bol said ADRA India will implement its initial emergency response based on the findings of an assessment team currently at work. The team is backed up by local non-governmental agencies with more ground presence in the affected region than ADRA, which is headquartered further south in Delhi.