Valley death toll to stay below 50: Minister

  • Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2014 23:14 IST

The death toll in the Kashmir valley is not likely to be more than 50, the state government has said, adding that it's not likely to be as bad as they feared.

"From the information we have, we have assessed that the death toll is likely to be around 40. Many people have been rescued and those stranded are on the top floors," minister for state for home Sajjad Kitchloo told HT on Wednesday. Chief minister Omar Abdullah had also said on Tuesday that the toll could not be high.

"It's not going to be on higher scale for sure. Our priority is to rescue the stranded people," said principal secretary forn home Suresh Kumar. The water level is receding and minister Kitchloo said south Kashmir, which had been cut off from the valley after the breaking down of communication lines, now had all-clear situation.

"It's all clear in Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian districts; and shops have reopened. In Srinagar's adjoining district of Pulwama, it's just about two feet of water but the biggest worry is worst-affected colonies of Srinagar, where the water is still about 15 feet at many places," said Kitchloo.

Even though the Jehlum was receding, it would take quite a lot to flush out all the water logged in the localities, said the minister, adding that the only plausible option was to use suction machines to clear the area. Top officials of all the government departments have gone over the plan to restore the supply of electricity and water to South Kashmir first and then Srinagar.

However, the road connectivity, in the inner affected areas especially, is unlikely to be restored fast, since more than 100 bridges are damaged in South Kashmir alone. The army has pressed maximum men and machinery into service to repair road links, and the army and the air force are carrying out the herculean tasks of relief and rescue.

On Wednesday, their aircraft had made 97 sorties for the day out of 710, so far; dropped 807 tonnes of relief material, and evacuated 42,652 people, including 19,209 civilians, from Srinagar.

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