Horrendous flooding continues to wreak havoc on the population of the Northern Indian State of Uttarakhand. Around 80,000 people are thought to have been evacuated with potentially 1,000 thought to be dead. At this stage the numbers are very hard to accurately quantify. The level of risk is very high due to the low level of economic development in the area dominated by agricultural activity. The capacity to cope has been reduced by mountainous topography of the area however rescue efforts have been criticised for focusing on tourists rather than local people. The BBC news website reports in more detail here.
Flooding in the area is not unusual, monsoon rain is an annual occurrence. However the intensity of this years rainfall is unprecedented. The Indian meteorological department reported a record rainfall of 385 mm during the first few weeks of June, which is 440 per cent over the usual rainfall. This is a useful video that helps to explain the problems caused by the monsoon.
This article in the Guardian strongly suggests that the impacts of the flooding has been exacerbated by the rapid and thoughtless economic development in the area. Dense vegetation has been removed and replaced with roads, high rise homes and offices all of which are impermeable surfaces. This reduces the lag time between peak rainfall and peak discharge in the rivers whose regimes have been interrupted by numerous dam projects.