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The death toll from flash floods and heavy rain could reach 1,000, officials in India said on Sunday, and ramped-up rescue efforts to help thousands still stranded at high altitudes might be slowed by more bad weather.
Rescuers have recovered more than 550 bodies in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand where an early monsoon began June 15 and caught scores unprepared, Agence France-Presse said.
Torrential rains flooded the Ganges River, devastating a region popular with tourist and pilgrims known as “Land of the Gods” for its revered Hindu shrines.
Many have been stranded there without food or water for five days. “The death toll could be more than 750 – maybe around 1000,” Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna told AFP.
The number of casualties has already passed the 600 mark with another 40,000 people needing immediate help.
More bodies are suspected to be found in nearby jungles, where tourists are thought to have fled after their hotels were swamped.