6:34 am - Friday November 6, 2015

J&K floods: rescue teams to focus on Srinagar

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Mammoth multi-agency rescue efforts were underway in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday to rescue lakhs of people trapped in flood-ravaged areas, with IAF choppers and transport aircraft undertaking non-stop sorties overnight to carry men and relief material to submerged parts.

Rescue teams will be on Tuesday focusing on the inundated city of Srinagar and south Kashmir belt where an estimated four lakh people are believed to be trapped in floods which have claimed nearly 200 lives in the state.

Two more units of Army and NDRF have been airdropped to Pancheri in Udhampur where 30 people are missing after a landslide hit the area. “Seven bodies and a limb of a person have been so far recovered in Udhampur but the operation to locate those trapped is very difficult,” DIG Garib Das said.

However, the situation in the rest of Jammu belt has stabilised and the focus is now on providing relief material on the ground, officials said.

They said a massive rescue and relief operation is on in Kashmir Valley with more helicopters and rescue material including boats pressed into service.

30 sorties of IL-76 and AN 32 have been undertaken to Srinagar overnight to carry men and relief material, boats cutters and other equipment besides huge quantity of medicines and water bottles.

Speaking about the rescue efforts, Army Lt Chetan said, “We are rescuing 10-15 people in every round we make per boat. We make 50-60 rounds per day. We have all equipment to rescue people. We will move out only after rescuing everybody”.

Army Chief Gen Dalbir Suhag had said in Delhi on Monday that “Soldiers won’t return to barracks until last man is helped.”

Army medical officer Jagdish Singh said, “We have set up medical camps and are treating 230-300 people everyday. “We have ambulances and surgeons. District hospitals and NGOs are also working with us,” he said.

Lt Gen D S Hooda, General-Officer-Commanding of the Army’s Northern Command had said yesterday that the focus will be now on Srinagar.

The heavy floods triggered by torrential rains have snapped Valley’s telecommunication links with the rest of the country.

BSNL has launched an operation on a war-footing with Army and IAF to restore mobile services through satellite network and the telecom network is expected to be partially restored on Tuesday, officials said.

To provide relief to the displaced, 68 camps have been set up in Jammu. Seven helicopters have been pressed to ferry relief material to Rajouri, Poonch, Reasi, Mahore, Doda, Kishtwar belts, officials said.

The Centre has rushed more National Disaster Response Forces (NDRF) teams equipped with boats and other flood relief equipment to Kashmir Valley. Naval commandos have also been deployed for the first time.

Army, Air Force, NDRF and state agencies have so far rescued more than 25,000 people and lodged them in higher places in the Valley.

Boats have been pressed into service in many flooded parts to rescue residents huddled on rooftops and upper floors of their houses.

Meanwhile, the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district was on with over 25,000 people offering prayers since Monday. Efforts are on to restore helicopter services to the cave shrine, Mr. Das said.

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