Kashmir Floods: 120 Killed, 10000 Stranded, Rajnath Visits as Army Rushes Rescue Teams

The incessant rains bring to memory the flash floods of Ladakh two years ago to the Kashmir vally with 120 people reported killed and 10,000 stranded in the worst floods since 2009, while Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh rushed to take stock of the situation.

The Army has been pressed into service as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel were shifted from Uttarakhand, while rescue army personnel in a boat fell latest victims to heavy floods in Pulwama district.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in Srinagar on Saturday morning and held a meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and visited the affected areas in Srinagar city and then took off to an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas. He was accompanied by Minister of State (PMO)  Jitendra Singh. and senior officials of Home Ministry Sneh Lata Kumar and Additional Director General, National Disaster Response Force. 

The River Jhelum is flowing far above the danger mark and several of its embankments in Pulwama were breached and authorities have already issued a red alert and the airport road was seen blocked with overflowing water, reports said.

The rains, which are part of the southwest monsoon, continued for the last five days and the downpour is expected for two more days, making rescue efforts difficult in the valley and all 10 districts in Jammu region were affected with landslides, damaged roads, broken bridges, collapsed buildings and tatally washed out crops. Vehicles are seen stranded on the Jammu-Pathankot highway.

The death toll is anywhere in the range of 120, including 63 killed in Rajouri bus incident that washed away all passengers on Thursday. So far, 25 bodies have been recovered from the site and rescue teams are struggling to retrieve bodies even 5-km afar.

The Army and the Air Force have so far rescued 6,000 stranded people on Friday and the rescue teams said the situation was worse than what they had witnessed in Uttarakhand last month. The schools in Jammu and Kashmir have been closed till this weekend but unlikely to re-open owing to heavy downpour expected this weekend too.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sanctioned an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh for the family of those killed and Rs. 50,000 for the seriously injured. President Pranab Mukherjee too has condoled the loss of lives due to floods and landslides in Jammu and Kashmir in message to Governor N.N. Vohra.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the heavy rains leading to floods and landslides in certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir, which have caused loss of lives, injuries and damage to property… I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured,” he said.

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