16 dead, 20 injured or missing in rain related incidents in J&K and Himachal
At least 16 people have died and 20 others were either injured or reported missing in two separate incidents of cloud bursts in Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir and Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, even as heavy rains brought life to standstill in several parts of northern India in the past 24 hours.
On Wednesday morning, the Jammu and Kashmir administration deployed Indian Army and state disaster relief force personnel at Honzar village in Kishtwar district after a cloudburst damaged over half a dozen houses in the area.
While seven bodies have been found from the debris, 12 others are feared trapped. Additional director general of police, Mukesh Singh, said of the 17 rescued, five were critical and have been shifted to government hospital in Kishtwar. “Army is assisting local police in the rescue operations,” he said.
About 100 villagers in Honzar were caught unaware when a gush of water came down from a neighbouring monsoon stream very early in the morning when most were asleep, Singh said. Most of the houses that got swept away were on the side of the stream, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet that the Central government is closely monitoring the situation in the wake of the cloudbursts in Kishtwar and Kargil and all the possible assistance is being made available in the affected areas. Union home minister Amit Shah also took stock of the situation and spoke to the lieutenant governor (L-G) & Jammu & Kashmir’s director general of police (DGP) regarding the incident, officials said.
In Himachal Pradesh, nine persons were reported dead and seven were missing after two flash floods in Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti districts, said officials of state disaster management authority.
Five persons died and four were missing after a cloudburst flooded Tozing Nullah and washed away two tents housing labourers and a JCB machine in Lahaul and Spiti district, said Lahaul and Spiti deputy commissioner Neeraj Kumar. The dead and missing include four personnel of the Border Roads Organisation and General Reserve Engineer Force (BRO-GREF).
Kumar said a Kashmiri labourer was among the dead and added that rescue teams, comprising members of the BRO, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), were trying to locate those missing. Kumar said army personnel Mohan Singh, 38, and his family members were rescued from Chhatting village. Singh was undergoing treatment at the Regional Hospital, Keylong. His family members are safe and have been sent to Jahalma.
According to the state emergency operation centre, a flash flood was reported in Udaipur’s Changut village and Udgos Nullah at 6pm on Tuesday, washing away an old house and damaging a bailey bridge. Second flash flood was reported in Mooring Nullah in Udaipur that stalled traffic on state highway number 26. Another flash flood occurred at Hukka Nullah of Rakchham in Sangla in Kinnaur district but no major loss to property was reported.
State disaster management director Sudesh Mokhta said a landslide near Kirting village of Lahaul sub-division had blocked state highway number 26. At least 50 vehicles were stranded in the area and efforts to restore traffic were on. Officials said a flash flood was reported at Keylong village, which blocked the Leh-Manali highway, which is closed at multiple spots due to landslides.
In Chamba district that borders Jammu and Kashmir, five persons were reported missing following flash floods triggered by heavy rain at Chaned on the Chamba-Pathankot highway. Rescuers of the state police and home guards were searching for the missing, police said.
In Kullu district, a 25-year-old woman, Poonam Negi, and her four-year-old son, Nikunj, were missing after they were swept away in the Brahmaganga rivulet, a tributary of the Parvati river in Manikaran valley of Kullu district, officials said.
In two simultaneous cloudbursts, a mini power plant was badly damaged in Kargil area of the Union territory of Ladakh. In addition, several residential houses and standing crops were also damaged in the region, officials said, adding there was no report of loss of human life in the cloudbursts, which struck Sangra and Khangral on Tuesday evening.
Mini cloud bursts leading to heavy rains were reported from Chamoli in Uttarakhand even as the rest of the state got heavy rains on Wednesday, leading to several landslides and blockade of traffic. In Almora district, a home guard jawan identified as one Rakesh Kiroula, was swept away by an overflowing water stream while riding home on his scooter early Wednesday morning.
Continuous heavy rains since Tuesday night caused water logging in low lying areas of Dehradun, where a culvert was damaged in Bakrawala area. The water logging damaged several houses in the capital city. Due to heavy rains, tourists were also stopped from going to the popular tourist spot of Kempty Falls near Mussoorie.
The Dehradun centre of IMD stated that the state on Wednesday witnessed “moderate rainfall with heavy to very heavy rainfall” and the monsoon was expected to remain active over the state for the next few days. “The rainfall in the state is above normal in July with excess rain in June,” said Bikram Singh, director of IMD Dehradun centre.
The Delhi NCR region, which has been recording light to moderate rainfall since Wednesday morning, reported several traffic jams and snarls because of water logging. The national capital has recorded 381 mm of rainfall so far in July, which is the highest for this month since 2003 and the second-highest ever.
Not just Delhi, heavy rains also lashed Odisha, Gangetic West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar. The IMD has predicted heavy rainfall across northern India and several areas of Madhya Maharashtra, Kokan and Goa for the next two days.
July witnessed several incidents of cloudburst, which is 100 mm or more rainfall at one particular place in an hour. A mini-cloudburst is one where 50mm to 60mm rainfall takes place in a short duration. Both lead to sudden spurt of water in catchment areas of monsoon streams leading to massive landslides and movement of boulders in fast flowing water.
The data collected by Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments show a gradual increase in cloudburst incidents, which officials in the two states attributed to devastation of forests in hills for development and horticulture, apart from impact of climate change on rainfall patterns.