At least 107 people have died in Jammu and Kashmir, home minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday even as rescuers struggled to evacuate tens of thousands of people marooned in the state’s worst flood in 60 years.
Heavy rainfall lashed the state for the fifth straight day, causing rivers to breach embankments and putting rescue operations at risk. The state faces an urgent demand of 25,000 tents and 40,000 blankets for relief, an official said.
More than 3,000 villages have been affected by floods, with around 300 cut off completely. Flash floods have snapped road and communication links across major parts of the state and damaged many border outposts.
Singh conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected districts, announcing relief of Rs 2 lakh each to families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the injured.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah admitted rescuers weren’t able to touch the worst-hit south Kashmir region and said airlifting of marooned people may begin on Sunday, which is likely to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the region.
The Jammu-Srinagar highway remained closed for the third day on Saturday after landslides left hundreds of vehicles stranded. The Vaishno Devi Yatra was also cancelled on Saturday with train services to Katra suspended after landslides blocked the tracks.
In Kashmir, rivers continued to flow well above the danger mark with red alert issued in south Kashmir’s Pulwama region and low-lying areas of Srinagar. Flash floods capsized a rescue boat with nine soldiers, two of whom are still missing.
On Saturday, Udhampur district alone reported 10 deaths with electricity and communication lines suspended for the third day in Poonch and Rajouri districts, home to around 100,000 people. The army said it evacuated had around 11,000 people and established 10 relief camps. Air force choppers carried out 76 sorties, rescuing 230 people.
The Centre also sent eight National Disaster Response Force teams, who have saved 112 people.