The death toll in the Jammu and Kashmir floods has reached 277, including 79 deaths in the Kashmir Valley.
The figure was confirmed by chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday. Rescue workers have so far recovered 74 bodies since water started receding from different parts of the Valley.
The death toll in state’s winter capital Jammu is 203, including the 60 members a marriage party who are missing since their bus was washed away in Rajouri district.
Shaleindra Kumar, commissioner secretary tourism, who has been given the charge of relief and rehabilitation works said that 79 people were either dead or missing in the Valley. “Rescue workers have recovered 74 bodies from various parts of the Valley,” said Kumar.
While most bodies have been recovered from debris of the houses in the worst affected Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar area, some people have also died while trying to rescue their kin.
“A young woman came to our locality three days back. She said she wanted to visit her brother stranded in Rajbagh. She went with a local boat, but the shikarawala came back alone saying she slipped midway,’’ said Zahoor Ahmad, a resident of Rajbagh.
Similar stories are being heard from everywhere. “My friends’ two nieces, 3-year-old and another 9 months along with their grandmother slipped into water as their boat turned turtle while they were being rescued,’’ said his friend Mushtaq Ahmad. As government rescue teams could not reach most of the affected places, 90% of rescue in the areas was carried out by local volunteers or relatives of the stranded people.
Meanwhile, the government has increased its efforts for dewatering the city. “We have got 18 heavy duty pumps, which have capacity of pumping out 18000 litres per minute and 69 smaller pumps. They will be installed soon,’’ Kumar said.
The heavy duty pumps will be installed in areas like Rajbagh, Bemina, Dereshkadal and behind the Lal Ded hospital. “Besides these measures, the government has breached the Jhelum at 12 strategic places to drain out water from the flood-hit areas,’’ he added.
He said out of the 72 pumping stations in Srinagar, 36 are functional, rest are still submerged under flood waters. Kumar said he was hopeful that much water will be out of the city by Monday.
“We have two more days. By Monday things would have been considerably better,’’ he added.
Kumar said the state government has distributed 300 trucks of ration, 50 trucks of cooking gas, 150 trucks of water bottles, medicines, tea, cooking oil in the affected areas. “We are trying our best that relief should reach the deserving people,’’ he said.