The weather in the flood ravaged Kashmir valley, including capital Srinagar, improved noticeably on Wednesday. The development quickened the pace of rescue missions, yet thousands were still are stranded, desperately awaiting help.
Some of those rescued said they went without food, water and electricity for nearly three days and those yet to be reached are enduring similar hardships.
The army pressed about 180 rescue columns — roughly 7,000 men — across the state, rescuing 19,200 people by dusk, taking the total number of people evacuated to safety to 42,652 since the deadly flood broke out last Sunday.
A sunny day resulted in water levels going down in parts of Srinagar, said senior army official, Col. Brijesh Pandey.
However, things were not all smooth for harried Srinagar residents yet. At Srinagar airport, people scrambled for the first available flight out. All major hospitals in Srinagar are either fully or partially submerged. “I don’t know where the patients have gone. Our equipment is all gone. A big health scare is staring at us,” said Dr Sajad Qazi, the general secretary of Medical Faculty Association. A scarcity of medicine could stoke a hidden medical crisis, apart from fears of an outbreak of water borne diseases.
Helicopter sorties are crisscrossing Srinagar’s skies, looking those stuck. On the ground, 70 rescue boats are darting in and out of localities. However, the sheer scale of the tragedy has meant that large numbers await evacuation.
As dusk fell, a planned evacuation had to be called off due to fading light, which came as a huge disappointment for those eagerly waiting to be airlifted. “This will be my longest night. I just hope me and my family and my little nephew can survive,” said Sakshi Passi, a Delhi resident.