‘Communication failure the biggest hurdle in rescue ops’

  • Faizan Haidar, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2014 00:46 IST

With Jammu and Kashmir reeling under its worst-ever floods in over 65 years, rescue personnel have pulled all stops to help people who are marooned in different areas of the state.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) director general OP Singh tells HT about a first of its kind urban rescue operation in the state

How are NDRF teams working in J-K?

NDRF teams moved to Jammu on September 4 and 5, but the situation started worsening in Srinagar then. Water levels rose and most of the damage happened on September 5 and 6. We have 19 teams, each having 45-50 trained commandoes, who have rescued about 11,000 people so far.

How difficult is it to carry out rescue operations in unfavourable weather conditions?

NDRF personnel are trained to carry out rescue operations in such conditions and that is why we have rescued almost 5,000 people every day. It is the breakdown of communication, which is causing problems.

We are using wireless sets and have requested MTNL to set up telephone lines so that stranded people can contact their relatives.

How are you dealing with the communication problem? Who’s guiding the personnel?

We have identified areas where people are stranded and our priority is to rescue old people, infants and women first. We are calling it the urban flood rescue, as this is the first of its kind rescue operation in J&K.

We are getting almost 900 calls every day on our helpline and people are also visiting our Delhi office with information about their relatives who they have not been able to contact. It is not possible to look at each and every individual case, but we are passing the information to rescuers in the affected regions.

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