Flood alerts issued in Kashmir as rivers cross danger mark
Hundreds of Kashmiris in both India and Pakistan moved to higher ground yesterday as rain-swollen rivers swamped parts of the disputed Himalayan region placed under an emergency flood alert just six months after some 600 people died in flooding that left the region in shambles.
Officials ordered residents along the banks of the Jhelum River to move to relief camps as the water crossed the danger threshold in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
More than a dozen people were trapped inside two houses that partially sank into the ground after a landslide hit Laden village in Budgam district, police said. Rescuers pulled out the bodies of four men from the huge piles of mud that buried the houses, said Manoj Pandit, a police spokesman. Rescue workers were searching for at least 10 others who were in the buildings when they were hit by the landslide, he said.
The flooding after three days of heavy rain renewed fears among the tens of thousands who have struggled to rebuild after flooding in September destroyed thousands of homes and infrastructure worth $17 billion. For days in September, many residents were left stranded on rooftops or the upper floors of buildings as bloated livestock carcasses floated by. For weeks, heaps of garbage piled up in the waterlogged city.
After many faulted the government last year for failing to anticipate such flooding, and for taking too long to respond, Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday dispatched a special team to assess the threat and to get relief efforts moving.
The government of the Indian-controlled portion of the region had issued a flood warning Sunday night as river levels approached the danger mark. Yesterday, a junior minister assured that the central government was working with the region to offer whatever help it could.