Death Toll In Indian Monsoon Flooding Nears 600 as presented by: Sacramento Bee

Rescuers found bodies in the River Ganges and in the muddy, broken earth left by landslides, raising the death toll from monsoon flooding in mountainous northern India to nearly 600 Friday, officials said. The air force dropped paratroopers, food and medicine for people trapped in up to 100 towns and villages cut off since Sunday in the Himalayan state of Uttrakhand where thousands of people are stranded, many of them Hindu pilgrims who were visiting four shrines in the area. Uttrakhand state Chief Minister Vijay Bahguna said 556 bodies have been noticed buried deep in slush and the army was trying to recover them. He spoke to CNN-IBN television channel on Friday. The annual monsoon rains sustain India's agriculture but also cause flooding that claims lives and damages property. Neighboring Uttar Pradesh state said 17 flood-related deaths occurred there since the heavy rains Sunday. People gather to watch a bridge submerged in the flooded water of the River Ganges in Rudraprayag. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, in uniform, help stranded pilgrims on a makeshift bridge cross a stream of gushing floodwater at Govind Ghati, in Chamoli district, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. Indian people use a boat to cross a Tibetan market along the banks of the Yamuna River, in New Delhi, India.

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