Fresh rains hamper rescue ops in flood-hit Kashmir

  • AFP, Srinagar
  • Updated: Sep 14, 2014 18:29 IST

Fresh rains in flood-ravaged Kashmir disrupted rescue operations on Sunday as hundreds of thousands were still marooned, desperate for help after horrific devastation in the Himalayan region including neighbouring Pakistan.

The floods and landslides from days of heavy monsoon rains have now claimed at least 480 lives in Pakistan and India, with rescuers struggling to cope with the massive disaster.

After a few clear days, fresh rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightning hampered relief operations in the worst affected areas of Indian Kashmir's normally scenic main city of Srinagar.

Floodwaters have been subsiding in recent days but desperate residents were seen waving from rooftops and upper-storey windows of inundated buildings in a bid to attract attention.

In both India and Pakistan, security forces have been using boats and helicopters to deliver food supplies and evacuate survivors.

"The weather is very bad. We have had to halt our operations for some time and we are waiting for the weather to clear," Indian air force spokesperson Gerard Galway told AFP.

"We are hopeful that we should be back to efforts as soon as the weather clears," Galway added.

Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, a state administrator, said the fresh rainfall also posed problems for scores of flood victims without any proper shelter, and also fuelled concerns over water-borne diseases.

Shah told the Press Trust of India news agency that in some places people were in tents which were not water proof, but he added that relief efforts would continue despite the rain.

In Indian Kashmir, there was anger over slow rescue efforts. Some rescuers had been attacked, although now such incidents had reportedly diminished.

The Indian government estimates at least 200 people died and 142,000 people have been rescued in the restive region Kashmir where militants have been fighting Indian rule since the late 1980s.

Some 137 relief camps were operating in the Kashmir valley alone assisting over 100,000 people, officials said.

Pakistan, which has suffered a series of annual flood diasters, says as many as 2.29 million people have been affected.

Some 280 people have died from the heavy rains and flooding in the Punjab, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan regions, Ahmed Kamal, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), told AFP, while over 214,000 people had been evacuated.

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