Floods and landslides triggered by a week of heavy rain continued to batter Jammu and Kashmir Sunday. Death toll climbed to 150 as homes, hospitals and a military base were inundated in the capital Srinagar overnight.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who flew over the flooded areas, 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.
Armed forces stepped up rescue Sunday. The air force pressed more planes and choppers into service. So far, 12,500 people have been taken to safety by the army.
To all of you tweeting for help/rescue we are doing our best to reach all ASAP. Please stay in the upper floors & wait for help to come 1/n— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) September 7, 2014
But, a lot of people were still stranded and chief minister Omar Abdullah assured them all help. “This is an unprecedented situation… Please do not panic, we will reach you, I promise,” he said.
They were short of boats to reach more than 300 villages that had been completely cut off, the CM said. The Centre has rushed in 150 boats and five teams of the National Disaster Response Force. Modi also promised essential supplies, medicines and 100,000 blankets.
Though rains abated Saturday, flood waters rose sharply overnight in Srinagar after the Jhelum broke banks.
“Water started coming in our colony after midnight and by 3am the first floor was submerged,” said Syed Anju, a resident of Qamarwari, in the Civil Lines.
PM Narendra Modi arrives in Jammu to review situation in flood affected areas pic.twitter.com/cC6Q7Ixbs0— ANI (@ANI_news) September 7, 2014
Swirling waters also made the city’s commercial hub the Lal Chowk and nearby residential areas inaccessible. An army cantonment, a children’s hospital and Srinagar’s only maternity facility were also flooded.
All vital roads, including the one leading to the airport, were under water.
“We have been advised to move out of our homes as water is moving into Lal Chowk very fast,” R Altaf, a resident of the press colony, said.
“The water level is decreasing in Jammu ... while the situation in Kashmir has worsened. In many areas, the ground floors are inundated,” Abdullah told media.
The water was about four meters deep, submerging entire houses, in many Srinagar neighbourhoods. While the army and local police evacuated thousands, many more were stranded in the upper floors.
Though flood waters were receding in Jammu, a landslide and a house collapse left 13 people dead in Udhampur district, taking the death toll in the region to 128.
(With agency inputs)