The death toll from flooding in Jammu and Kashmir climbed to 180 on Monday as relief and rescue operations were stepped up with the Indian Air Force (IAF) using helicopters and planes to rescue those stranded in the worst-affected areas.
Officials said the toll could go up as 30 more people could be feared dead in Udhampur district of Jammu region.
The IAF has deployed 16 medium lift helicopters, nine light helicopters and seven transport aircraft for the rescue and relief operations.
The Indian Army has deployed 130 columns, with 70-100 personnel in each column, which have rescued at least 14,800 people. Fifty Army Medical Teams have also been pressed into service.
The Centre has rushed six National Disaster Response Forces (NDRF) teams, who were airlifted by from Delhi, Bathinda, Pune and Ahmedabad to Srinagar and Avantipur, equipped with boats and other flood relief equipment.
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Army and IAF choppers have also airdropped relief material at many places in Jammu.
NDRF and state police personnel say it has been extremely difficult to manually clear areas as they have not been able to use machines to remove earth.
Jammu-Srinagar national highway too remained closed for the fifth consecutive day while the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi shrine has resumed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who flew over the flooded areas on Sunday, announced a grant of Rs. 1,000 crore and said the crisis was “a national level disaster”.
“I want to tell people of the region that we will do everything possible to get them out of this disaster,” he said.
The state’s worst flooding in 60 years has submerged villages, ruined crops, snapped communication links and left thousands homeless.
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Most of the Srinagar is submerged in water with all lines of communications snapped in the city. Though, there are no reports of any loss of life in the city.
At least 6,000 tourists, who are stranded in the state’s capital, are desperately trying to reach out to their relatives and friends but have not been able to establish any contact with them.
There have been numerous complaints about the slow response of the administration. The authorities themselves are finding it difficult to evacuate the people as there very few elevated areas in Srinagar.
The water level in Jhelum has reached 18 feet, breached embankments and flooded the Srinagar city affecting Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Shivpora and Indranagar areas. At many places, the water has reached up to the first story-level of the homes.
The Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar city is also affected. The army has pressed 84 columns with teams of 15 engineers into service to bring the affected people to safety. The teams have also saved 1,400 army personnel.
An army spokesperson said relief operation in remote area south Kashmir will be started soon.
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