Army battling to rescue stranded people in Kashmir

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Army battling to rescue stranded people in Kashmir
Indian security forces walk near a road damaged in floods on the banks of the Tawi River on the outskirts of Jammu, India, Sunday, Sept.7, 2014. The flooding, the worst in 50 years, has killed more than a hundred people across the Himalayan region. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Army and air force troops worked through the night to rescue thousands of people stranded across Kashmir and parts of northern and eastern Pakistan where more than 320 people have been killed in landslides and flash floods, an Indian official said Monday.

Six days of rains in Indian-controlled Kashmir have left more than 120 people dead in the region’s worst flooding in more than five decades, submerging hundreds of villages and triggering landslides, officials said. In neighboring Pakistan , more than 205 people have died and thousands of homes have collapsed.

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority spokesman Ahmad Kamal said the latest flash floods have killed 205 persons and left at least 383 injured over the past six days.

Pakistani troops were busy helping civilian authorities in rescue operations and in reaching aid to stranded villagers, the Pakistani army said in a statement.

Army and the civilian authorities have so far evacuated nearly 9,000 people to safer places from nearly 530 villagers that were inundated by flood waters, Kamal said.

He said authorities were gearing up to deal with the worsening of the situation as the waters of the Chenab and Indus Rivers was rising.

Pakistani TV channels showed pictures of flooding from different cities and villagers, with the water raging through the streets and roads, causing heavy losses.

Kamal said flash floods and landslides had killed 131 people in Pakistan’s Punjab district, and 74 others in Kashmir and Gilgit areas of Pakistan .

Meanwhile, more than 5,200 people were rescued from various parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir , said O P Singh, director of India’s National Disaster Response Force.

Medicines, blankets, tents and food rations were being supplied to people stranded on rooftops, he said, as most parts of Srinagar , the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir , were submerged.

Omar Abdullah, chief minister of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state, said these were the worst floods to hit Kashmir in decades. His administration had launched rescue and relief operations on a war footing and was working closely with the army to reach people in the worst hit areas.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we are doing the best we can under the circumstances. Please don’t panic, we will reach you, I promise,” he tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who surveyed the flood-hit areas by helicopter on Sunday called the flooding a “national disaster.” He promised the state an additional 10 billion rupees (nearly $170 million ) in funds for aid and compensation to those hit by the floods.

If the floods had one favorable outcome, it was an attempt by the Indian prime minister to reach out to his rival counterpart in Pakistan .

In a letter to Nawaz Sharif on Sunday, Modi offered assistance in relief efforts in the Pakistan -controlled portion of Kashmir .

“In this hour of need, I offer any assistance that you may need in the relief efforts that will be undertaken by the Government of Pakistan . Our resources are at your disposal wherever you need them,” Modi wrote to Sharif.

The northern Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan , and is claimed in its entirety by both countries. The two countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir .



 

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