J&K floods: Navy called in, national calamity declared

RSTV Bureau

modi_kashmirMassive rescue operations were underway on Monday to evacuate thousands of people stranded in floods of Jammu and Kashmir as the situation remained under control.

As authorities struggled to deal with the calamity, a landslide was reported from Pachori village in Udhampur district and mitigation forces have reached the area to rescue the few people trapped there.

A total of 25 boats have been launched in flooded areas of Srinagar city to ferry people out even as over 5,100 people have been rescued from the state which is reeling under heavy floods.

Flood fury has so far claimed the lives of nearly 150 people and damaged many buildings, including hospitals, and snapped road and communication links, cutting off many areas.

“We are facing a big problem of communication as all links are down. We are not able to communicate with our teams sent on ground in this flood-ravaged area. Also, as water level is high in many places our personnel are not able to reach the stranded,” National Disaster Response Force chief O P Singh told reporters in Delhi.

The NDRF Director General said massive operations are being undertaken in the submerged areas of Goglibagh, Batmalu, Badami Bagh and Bakshi Stadium area of state capital Srinagar apart from other areas.

In view of the deteriorating situation, the state government has ordered closure of all schools till September 12.

The Army has, meanwhile, stepped up relief efforts, deploying 184 columns (75-100 personnel each) while IAF has pressed 29 planes and helicopters into service, set up a disaster monitoring cell and alerted all its bases to a high state of readiness.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday described the situation in the state as unprecedented and said, “We doing the best we can under the circumstances. Please do not panic, we will reach you, I promise”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reviewed the flood situation in the state yesterday, had termed it a “national level disaster”.

“An additional special project assistance of Rs 1,000 crore will be made available by the government to the state for flood relief and rehabilitation. More assistance would be provided, if required, after a proper survey of the situation has been made,” the PM said.

Communication system has been disrupted in Kashmir with almost all private cellular networks out of order. The landline telephone network has also been badly affected.

An Air Force officer said the situation in Jammu sector was under control but the situation in Srinagar was yet to improve.

Over 5,200 people have been rescued till now by a 700-strong NDRF team taking part in relief and rescue operation.

“NDRF teams engaged in rescue and relief works so far have evacuated more than 5,246 victims, 5,223 from Kashmir region and 23 from Jammu. Besides, thirteen bodies were also recovered by NDRF in Jammu region. The operations are still on,” the government said.

Navy commandos on Monday joined the massive rescue operations being carried out by the Army, Air Force and NDRF in flooded parts of Kashmir Valley, rescuing around 200 stranded people on the Srinagar-Sopore Highway.

Deployed for the first time to carry out rescue efforts in the flood-hit state, Naval marine commandos have rescued people caught in flood waters at Haigaon on the Srinagar–Sopore Highway, an Army official said.