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India steps up aid to flood victims, more rains predicted

June 22, 2013 at 2:42 PM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, June 22 (UPI) -- The Indian government says flooding that has killed at least 560 people and trapped thousands in northern parts of the country is a national crisis.

Special trains and army helicopters are being used to evacuate parts of the mountainous state of Uttarakhand, where 40,000 people are still stranded, the BBC reported Saturday.

At least 560 are known dead. Thousands are missing.

Forty bodies were pulled from the Ganges River in the town of Haridwar Friday, a police official said.

Officials say more than 33,000 people have been rescued, but rescue efforts have suffered from a lack of coordination among agencies.

The army is working to repair roads and bridges, but in the meantime residents of remote area are cut off from receiving any assistance.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has authorized a $170 million relief package for the state.

Singh's cabinet secretary, Ajit Seth, said Saturday rescue efforts would be stepped up, the Press Trust of India reported.

Fifty-six helicopters are making 220 trips a day into the flooded area to evacuate people and deliver relief materials. More rain is expected Monday.

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