Monsoon floods kill 300 in India, Pakistan
Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed 300 people in large swaths of northern India and Pakistan, officials said yesterday.
Five days of incessant rains in India-controlled Kashmir have left at least 120 people dead in the region's worst flooding in more than five decades, submerging hundreds of villages and triggering landslides, officials said. In neighbouring Pakistan, more than 160 people have died and thousands of homes have collapsed, with an official saying the situation was becoming a "national emergency."
Rescuers in both countries were using helicopters and boats to try to reach tens of thousands of people stranded in their homes as floodwaters rose and submerged many villages.
Rescue efforts in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, were hampered by fast-moving floodwaters that submerged large parts of the city.
The rains had stopped yesterday, but officials said the spreading water from the overflowed Jhelum River was moving too fast to allow boats to reach many people stranded in Srinagar. By evening, several boats had been deployed to start rescue efforts, said Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir state's top elected official.
In many of Srinagar's neighbourhoods, the water was about 4 metres (12 feet) deep, submerging entire houses. Stranded residents left their homes to move in with friends or relatives in safer areas.
"I'm in my 80s and I've never seen floods like this," said Ghulam Nabi, speaking through a window from the third storey of his house in Srinagar's upscale Rajbagh section. "If this is how it is in my neighbourhood, I cannot imagine the devastation in other areas."
Floodwaters entered the first floor of the state's main maternity hospital, forcing more than 200 patients and attendants to move to higher floors of the building.
Thousands of police officers and army rescue workers were fanned out across Jammu and Kashmir to help with relief and rescue efforts.