Foreign Ministry says around 200 Israelis still unreachable as monsoons lash India

With communications down after floods, officials striving to make contact with travelers; no indications of any Israelis injured

A swollen River Beas following heavy rains in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India, July 9, 2023. (Aqil Khan/AP)
A swollen River Beas following heavy rains in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India, July 9, 2023. (Aqil Khan/AP)

After heavy monsoon rains caused deadly floods in northern India, friends and families of a number of Israelis have reported to the Foreign Ministry that they are unable to reach their loved ones.

Around 200 Israelis are currently unreachable, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “in recent hours, a number of requests have arrived about those unable to be reached.”

According to Israel’s consulate in New Delhi, the problem comes primarily from damaged communications infrastructure and lack of reception.

“The Foreign Ministry, along with other actors on the ground, are undertaking efforts to reach the travelers,” said the ministry.

There are currently no indications that any Israelis have been hurt in the floods.

Ynet reported that hundreds more Israelis are known to be stuck in northern areas where roads have become blocked and the internet is down.

Landslides and flash floods in the country’s north have killed at least 15 people.

Vehicles move through a water logged street during a heavy downpour in New Delhi, India, July 9, 2023. (Manish Swarup/AP)

Schools in New Delhi were closed on Monday after heavy monsoon rains battered the Indian capital.

The torrential rain over the weekend left parts of New Delhi overflowing with water that submerged roads and stranded residents. The northern hill states were the worst affected, with 10 people killed in flash floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand states, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

One person died in New Delhi and four were killed in the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir.

Landslides triggered by the rains disrupted traffic on key highways in Uttarakhand, a tourist hill state in the Himalayas, prompting warnings for residents not to venture out of their homes unless necessary. Authorities used helicopters to rescue people while bridges and houses were swept away in neighboring Himachal Pradesh.

India’s weather agency has forecast more heavy rains in the north in the coming days. It said monsoon rains across the country have already brought about 2% more rainfall than normal.

India regularly witnesses severe floods during the monsoon season, which runs between June and September and brings most of South Asia’s annual rainfall. The rains are crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but often cause extensive damage.

Scientists say monsoons are becoming more erratic due to climate change, leading to frequent landslides and flash floods in India’s Himalayan north.

A man looks at a swollen River Beas following heavy rains in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India, July 9, 2023. (Aqil Khan/AP)

In neighboring Pakistan, which has also been pelted by monsoon rains, authorities were on alert for the season’s first flooding after India diverted waters from dams into the Ravi River, which flows from India into Pakistan.

Evacuations were underway from the lowlands in eastern Punjab province, according to Pakistan’s disaster management agency. More than 500 people were moved from the villages of Narowal, Sialkot, and elsewhere, officials said.

At least 80 people have died and 182 were injured in Pakistan in weather-related incidents since June 25 as heavy rains impacted tens of thousands of people in this Islamic nation.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday praised rescuers for evacuating those stranded in Punjab.

Pakistan said New Delhi had informed Islamabad about the release of water into the Ravi, as it is required to do under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty brokered by the World Bank.

Cash-strapped Pakistan is still struggling to recover from last summer’s flooding, which killed 1,739 people and caused $30 billion in damage.

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