A member of the rescue operation team of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), or Armed Border Force, walks toward the officers training center damaged by floods at their campus in Srinagar in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Himalayan tsunami. Government officials reported that India has started the mass cremation of bodies recovered in the northern Himalayan region after nearly two weeks of flooding triggered by heavy and early monsoon rains. At least 822 people have been killed by the floods, 96,000 evacuated and around 350 are still missing:
The disaster has been dubbed a “Himalayan tsunami” by the media due to the torrents of water unleashed in the hilly region, which sent mud and boulders crashing down, burying homes, sweeping away buildings, roads and bridges. Eighteen bodies were cremated on Wednesday in the temple town of Kedarnath – one of the worst affected areas – and at least 40 would be cremated on Thursday, said a government doctor in Guptkashi, some 25 miles from Kedarnath.
Uttarakhand state, the area affected, is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims thanks to its temples and shrines. Aid groups on Wednesday said they fear that rotting corpses are contaminating water sources, potentially causing serious outbreaks of cholera, dysentery and diarrhea. One expert told CNN the floods are an example of “ecocide,” explaining that ad hoc and reckless development has exacerbated the effect of monsoon rains. The flooding is the worst India has seen since 2008, when around 500 people were killed. Footage from Reuters on Tuesday shows survivors running toward rescue helicopters. See more images of the flooding here.