Srinagar/Shimla: At least eighteen people were killed and scores of others left injured on Wednesday in a series of flash floods triggered by cloudbursts in Himachal Pradesh and the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. At least 14 persons are missing and dozens of residential houses, bridges, a mosque, standing crops and a mini power plant damaged, officials said.
Amid incessant rains, a cloudburst also hit Amarnath but no loss of life or damage to the revered cave-shrine in south Kashmir was reported.
At least, seven persons including three women, were killed, and 14 others went missing after half a dozen residential houses were swept away by flash floods triggered by a cloudburst in a remote village of J&K Kishtwar district early Wednesday. The officials said that 17 persons injured in the calamity have been rescued and removed to hospital. The State Disaster Relief Force said five of the injured persons are in critical condition and were shifted to Kishtwar’s district hospital, while others are being taken care of by two medical teams.
A spokesman of the district police said six residential houses, a ration depot and a bridge were damaged in the impact of the cloudburst that hit Hanzor village of Kishtwar’s Dachhan area. Soon teams from the J&K police, the Army, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and civil administration were joined by local volunteers to begin a massive rescue and relief operation which was under way, the spokesman said. A report received here said that hostile weather is hampering the rescue and relief operation.
Kishtwar SSP Shafqat Hussain Bhat said that seven bodies had been recovered till Wednesday evening. “The search for the missing persons is going on. Initial reports suggest 25-26 people are missing,” he added.
The Kishtwar police in a statement said that twenty persons were missing and identified those whose bodies were recovered by Wednesday afternoon as Saja Begum, Rakila Begum, Ghulam Nabi, Abdul Majeed, Zaytoona Begum and Tauseef Iqbal. It confirmed 17 persons have been injured in the incident.
The district officials said that as many as 19 residential houses and 21 cowsheds were washed away and two houses were partially damaged in the impact of the cloudburst and resultant flash floods and mudslides.
In Himachal Pradesh, nine people died in the Lahaul-Spiti flash floods in Tozing Nullah in Udaipur, two people were injured and three are still missing, while two men died in Chamba, State Disaster Management director Sudesh Kumar Mokhta said. Besides, four people, including a woman, her son, a hydro project official and a Delhi tourist, are feared dead in Kullu district, he added.
In Lahaul’s Udaipur, two tents of labourers and a private JCB were washed away in the flash floods around 8 pm on Tuesday, Mr Mokhta said, adding that 12 labourers were washed away in the flash floods in Tozing Nullah in Udaipur. Of them, seven bodies recovered, two rescued with injuries and three are still missing, he added.
Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Neeraj Kumar said a NDRF team had been requisitioned for rescuing labourers trapped under the debris of the landslide. In Lahaul-Spiti, several roads are now blocked and around 60 vehicles stranded due to multiple landslides, Mr Mokhta said.
Many roads in various other parts of the state have been blocked due to the landslides. A car was damaged in a landslide in Vikas Nagar in Shimla city, he said.
In J&K, a government handout said one more SDRF rescue team from Udhampur has reached Dungdori, Kishtwar, and will join the rescue team early Thursday to trace missing persons. “Due to the incessant rain, the rescue operation was halted,” it said, adding yet another rescue team from SDRF and one NDRF team that reached Jammu are on standby.
A defence spokesperson said two columns of the Army were mobilised to assist the civil administration in the rescue operation. “First Army column mobilised early in the morning and joined civil administration in rescue operation while a second column is reaching shortly,” he said.
A report from frontier district of Rajouri said that a non-local labourer from Chhattisgarh was washed away in flash floods while another was rescued, officials said. Rajouri’s DC Rajesh Kumar Shavan said that high alert has been sounded in the district as the situation thrown by incessant rains is “very grim”. In neighbouring Poonch district too the water level in rivers, mountain streams and other water bodies has increased. In southern Anantnag district, about 100 residentioal houses have been partially damaged in flash floods, reports received here said.
Earlier cloudbursts hit two villages-Khangral and Sangra- in Kargil district of Ladakh, causing minor damages to some residential houses and a mini hydro power project but no casualties were reported, the officials said.
Condoling the loss of lives in the cloudburst in Kishtwar, President Ram Nath Kovind said he was deeply saddened by the death of many people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Centre was closely monitoring the situation in Kishtwar and Kargil. All possible help is being provided to the affected areas, he said, wishing for everyone’s safety and well-being. He tweeted: “The Central government is closely monitoring the situation in the wake of the cloudbursts in Kishtwar and Kargil. All possible assistance is being made available in the affected areas. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being.”
Heavy rains continued to lash parts of Himachal Pradesh, while most parts of the Jammu region have been receiving heavy rains for the past few days with the prediction of more rains till the end of July. The authorities in Kishtwar have already asked people living along water bodies and slide-prone areas to remain vigilant.
The Shimla meteorological centre has issued a “red” weather warning, while a met department spokesman said widespread intermittent rain is most likely to continue across Jammu and Kashmir till July 30....