M A I N   N E W S

Toll rises to 170 in J-K’s worst floods
* 31 more die in landslides, house collapse
* Rajnath announces relief
* Army, NDRF step up rescue ops
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/Ishfaq Tantray
Tribune News Service

Jammu/Srinagar, September 6
In the worst floods over the last five decades in Jammu and Kashmir, 31 more persons were killed in landslides and two incidents of house collapse today, taking the death toll to 170.

The toll includes 63 passengers on board the bus that was washed away in the Nowshera area of Rajouri on September 4. In all, 33 bodies have so far been recovered, including eight today.

More than 7,000 troops of the Army, IAF aircraft, eight disaster relief teams and the state police personnel were engaged in relief operations.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who visited the state today, announced Rs 2 lakh relief for the families of those killed and Rs 50,000 for the injured from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. At least 2,500 villages are affected by the flood, Rajnath said.

The Home Minister, who promised full assistance from the Centre, said the state had Rs 1,100 crore under the State Disaster Relief Fund at its disposal to deal with the floods, the worst since 1959.

Major rivers such as the Chenab, Tawi, Basanter, Ujh, Devak, Suran and Pulaft in Jammu division and Jhelum in Srinagar were flowing above the danger mark.

In Udhampur district, 13 persons died in four separate incidents and 374 houses were damaged on Saturday.

Rail traffic on the Jammu-Katra-Udhampur route was disrupted by landslides and floods. The Shri Shakti Express — the long-haul train to Katra — has been stranded at the Ramnagar station due to waterlogging.

In Poonch district, seven more deaths were reported from the Hill Kaka area. The victims included a man, his wife and their four children, who died in a house collapse.

Five persons, including four of a family, were killed in another house collapse at Kundra village in Reasi district.

In the Dera Baba area of the district, 10 persons were seriously injured in a house collapse late this evening. The Army was called in to carry out relief operations.

In the Tutay-de-Khui area, near Bajalta, on the outskirts of Jammu, at least five persons were killed in a landslide. The dead included a couple and their two children. In Rajpur Jagir Domana, near Jammu city, a woman was swept away in a flash flood.

In the Valley, the Jhelum, which continued to flow above the danger mark, breached at several points in Pulwama and Srinagar districts.

The divisional authorities in the Valley issued a fresh flood alert, warning people living in the vicinity of the river and other water bodies to move to safer places. They termed the situation, particularly in the submerged areas along the river in the two districts, as “grim and alarming”.

Incessant rain over the past one week has submerged vast swathes of habitation in south Kashmir, besides several low-lying residential areas on the left bank of the Jhelum and other areas south of Srinagar city.

“The situation continues to remain critical,” said Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir) Rohit Kansal. He put the death toll in the Valley at 11.

Over 390 villages across the Valley have been submerged completely and another 1,250 have been partially affected by the worst floods in decades.

The Jammu-Srinagar highway remained closed following landslides at Shaitani Nullah, Panthial and Battery Chashma. Also, traffic was suspended on the Srinagar-Anantnag and Baramulla-Kupwara highways. The Jammu-Poonch highway was cut off at three places, while traffic on the Jammu-Pathankot highway was partially suspended between at Balole Nullah.

In the past 48 hours, the Indian Air Force has mounted IL-76 sorties and pressed into service two AN-32 aircraft to carry NDRF teams and equipment from Bathinda to Srinagar and Jammu bases.

The Western Air Command headquarters has opened a disaster monitoring cell to coordinate efforts. The IAF Command has alerted its bases to a high state of readiness to respond to any emergency. It has assigned aircraft at its bases in Agra, Chandigarh, Suratgarh and Sarsawa apart from those in J&K for relief operations.

Modi to visit state today

PM Narendra Modi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday to assess the devastation caused in the floods. He will land in Jammu and take an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas. He will later review the situation in Jammu city before flying to Srinagar to visit the flood-hit areas there. This will be his third visit to the state after assuming office. — TNS

Declare calamity: Sonia

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday urged the Centre to declare the J-K crisis a national calamity. She also appealed to the Centre and the J-K Government to make efforts for relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected persons.

(With inputs from Deepanker Gupta, Darshan Bharti, Shyam Sood, Ranjit Thakur, Devinder Thakur, Vishal Jasrotia)





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