Rescue efforts get weather boost as rains ease up in Kashmir

10 Sep 2014


Flood waters started receding in Kashmir on Wednesday, giving rescue teams a chance to reach tens of thousands of villagers stranded by the heaviest rainfall the state has seen in 60 years.

Floods and landslides triggered by days of rain in Jammu & Kashmir as well as the Pakistan-occupied part of it have killed at least 450 people across the divide and cut off more than one million people from basic services.

"Finally the flood water levels are receding. Now our teams will be able to enter some of the villages that are totally submerged. Our boats are ready," R K Khan, a police official in Srinagar said.

The swollen Jhelum River flooded large parts of the city of nearly one million people, snapping communication lines as desperate families were forced to huddle on rooftops of houses and mosques for survival.

"There are some villages where everything has been swept away. People are extremely angry, frustrated and exhausted," said Khan, who manages the state's emergency control room.

State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah vowed to restore emergency services.

"I know people have lost everything. We promise to rehabilitate them. No relief and rehab camps can be perfect. We are doing all we can," Abdullah told reporters today.

He said the top priority was to distribute clean drinking water, medicines, food for infants and to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

The Indian army has evacuated 76,000 people from their homes, as well as mosques and government buildings. The death toll from the flooding in Jammu & Kashmir had reached 220 by this morning.

The flooding is the first major humanitarian emergency under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's NDA government, and also comes at a difficult time for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has faced weeks of street protests aimed at forcing him out.

In Pakistan, at least 231 people were reported to have been killed by the floods across the country, including the PoK region.

(See: J&K flood toll now over 200; light rain may aid SAR ops)

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