Abdul Rehman, a resident of Suryasar in central Kashmir's Budgam, deserted his house like scores of others after land beneath shook and slid. Dozens like him now live in makeshift shelters like the Khansahib School building as the threat of landslides and caving-in threatens thousands of residents here.
Hundreds of kanals of land in Budgam district, 30 km away from Srinagar, is continuously shifting because of the prolonged wet spell in the Valley. "Our house was sinking inch by inch. I bundled my family in a vehicle and left the village," said Rehman.
The district administration has fanned out men and machinery to stop the Laden like tragedy that left 16 dead in house collapse incidents. The villagers have been staying awake during nights since the fateful Monday and feeling of sinking land hasn't stopped.
"We have been complaining about drifting land since March this year. We are getting sleepless nights now," said Ramzan Rather, a local.
Budgam superintendent of police (SP) Fayaz Ahmad Lone grappled the developing landslide situation the whole day on Wednesday. "We are on our toes. We are monitoring the situation and taking necessary steps," said SP Lone.
Budgam's four tehsils of Chrar-e-Sharief, Beerwah, Chadoora and Khansahib is in the grip of high risk landslide situation.
Hundreds of families in these tehsils have shifted to safer locations following sinking and caving-in of karewas (terraced high lands with deep gorges and ravines). The district is spread over 1,370 square km with around 7.3 lakh population.
The areas worst affected were Jawalpora, Brinjan, Hapatnaar, Freshnaar - all precariously perched on karewas facing deep slopes. Some houses were damaged in Lolipora and Rawalpora in the district. Three houses had sunk in Khansahib area.
Agriculture minister and local MLA Ghulam Nabi Lone, who paid whirlwind visit to affected families, said, "Instructions have been made that all major roads should stay open."
Major landslides were also reported from south Kashmir's Shopian district where 45 families were evacuated. A chunk of road was swept by mountain debris on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad in north Kashmir's Uri area.
Experts warn of increasing threat of landslides due to ongoing rainfall. "Budgam karewas, which are repository of our 4 million years of history, is devoid of any vegetation. Highly wet land due to previous floods and recent snowfall is sinking and sliding under the influence of gravity. Houses should not have come up there in the first place," said Shakil Romshoo, head Earth Sciences, Kashmir University.
Romshoo said soil excavations and mushrooming of brick kilns have impacted the local ecology too. "These activities should be banned there. In fact, the government itself uses sand from there for development activities," he added, pointing towards the ongoing railway project.
The district is set to receive more rainfall in the next 24 hours, accentuating fears among the administration, which is likely to issue instructions for those living in upper reaches.
Seven tehsils of Shopian district has already been warned by the administration of impending landslide situation. Kashmir had seen intermittent rain spell since Saturday, adding water to the ground water table that remains super saturated because of the September floods, which left more than 280 dead and thousands stranded and homeless.