The death toll in the Jammu & Kashmir floods touched 175 today as the state battles its worst floods in decades, with rivers in the region in spate due to days of incessant rain.
Thousands of people are stranded across the state, including in Srinagar. The army and the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) have launched a massive rescue mission, airlifting the affected people to safety. The prime minister has called the floods a national calamity.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said this afternoon that the centre has sent an inter-ministerial team to will coordinate with and assist the state government.
''We are constantly increasing manpower to extend all possible help. Around 1,225 villages have been affected, but border [military] outposts are safe. A warning was issued, but such things happen, difficult to forecast a natural calamity,'' he said.
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visited flood-affected areas of the state on Sunday, the Army has received orders to airlift as many people as possible out of Srinagar, following which a massive operation is under way to evacuate people to locations such as Delhi, Pathankot, and Chandigarh.
Fixed wing aircraft of the Indian Air Force such as the AN-21, IL-76, C-130, C-70, besides copters like the MI-17, Cheetah and ALH, have been doing non-stop sorties, bringing in tons of food from Delhi and then carrying people outside of the valley.
"We have launched a massive operation in the state and divided the state into three zones for smooth conduct of operations," said the NDRF.
The Army has established three relief camps at old Srinagar airfield, Avantipura in south Kashmir, and Badamibagh Cantonment, which is the biggest camp where more than 2000 people have been lodged.
By 6 this morning, almost 17,000 people had been evacuated from Kashmir valley. This number is expected to reach to 30,000 by the end of the day. Clearances were received in the morning to put civilians on board service aircraft.
Boats are being used to vacate people to areas from where they can be airlifted by the copters and subsequently to safer zones or rescue camps. Almost 30 tonnes of water is to be delivered across the valley, which will be brought by the IL-76.
In Badamibagh cantonment alone, ration sufficient for only about 17 days is available and the Army personnel themselves have restricted their meals to just 'khichdi'. Two designated Army bakeries are producing bread through the night to ensure uninterrupted supply even as additional supplies including medicine, tents, beds, blankets are being flown in.
While civilians trapped on rooftops is a common sight in Srinagar, this time politicians and VIPs have not been spared from the havoc. Among those who are trapped are Inspector Generals of Police and a divisional commissioner.
Three of 28 Pakistani women, who had come to Srinagar for a SAARC sporting event, were rescued by the Army from Renaissance Hotel near Broadway Cinema.