A major river overflowing near India’s capital has reached the highest level on record, authorities said, prompting mass evacuations and causing havoc with water supplies as northern states report rising deaths from heavy flooding.
A tributary of the mighty Ganges River, the Yamuna River breached the “high flood level” mark on Wednesday for the first time in 45 years, according to the Central Water Commission.
The Yamuna, which flows about 855 miles (1,376 kilometers) south from the Himalayas through several states, rose to 208.57 meters (about 684 feet) as of Thursday – the highest mark ever, officials said.
Public Works Department Minister Atishi Marlena said about 30,000 people were evacuated along the river banks and urged residents to stay with relatives or seek shelter at relief camps.
“We are monitoring the water levels but right now there is so much water that we cannot stop it. Our focus right now is on evacuating,” she said Thursday, calling the situation “unprecedented.”
Complicating matters, Haryana state neighboring Delhi released water from a barrage – which could cause the Yamuna water levels to rise further, Marlena added.
India’s National Disaster Response Force told CNN on Thursday it had 12 teams working to help evacuate residents in affected areas.
The river overflowing has also led to school and office closures, along with likely water shortages, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, he said schools in affected areas have been ordered shut through Sunday, and non-essential public and private employees have been asked to work from home.
The overflowing has also impacted three water treatment plants in Delhi, Kejriwal said, warning that people will likely have to ration water supplies for several days due to shortages.
Transport has also been impacted, with some roads closed due to waterlogging, and heavy goods vehicles restricted from entering flood-affected areas.
Delhi metro trains, which serve millions of passengers each day, must travel at slower speeds when crossing bridges over the river, with the Yamuna metro station closed.
India is in the midst of monsoon season, which can last from April to September.
A week of heavy rains in the north of the country has caused flash floods, landslides, evacuations and sparked rescue efforts across much of the region. The death toll has climbed to at least 67 people, according to authorities.
The mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh has been hardest hit so far with at least 31 deaths, its chief minister said Tuesday.
More than 50,000 tourists were evacuated from Himachal Pradesh within 48 hours, according to the state’s Information Department – including in towns popular with travelers for their Himalayan backdrops and scenic forests.
In neighboring Uttarakhand state, three people drowned on Wednesday after a car lost control and fell into a river in Khoh River Pauri district, according to CNN affiliate CNN-News 18.
Meanwhile 11 people have died in Punjab state, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, and 10 in Haryana, CNN News-18 reported, citing officials.
CNN has reached out to state authorities for comment.