The flood fury unleashed more death and destruction in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming the lives of nearly 150 people and leaving many marooned, even as relief efforts were intensified today, with the Prime Minister announcing Rs 1000 crore aid for the battered state.
The marauding flood waters from major rivers and streams have damaged many buildings, including hospitals, and snapped road and communication links, cutting off many areas. The Army cantonment, Civil Secretariat and the High Court in Srinagar were also inundated.
While the situation was starting to ease in Jammu, large areas in Kashmir were enveloped in flood waters following incessant rains since Wednesday. The state government has ordered closure of all schools till September 12.
Stepping up relief efforts as the weather showed some signs of improvement, the army has deployed 184 columns (75-100 personnel each) while IAF has pressed 29 planes and helicopters into service, set up a disaster monitoring cell and alerted all its bases to a high state of readiness.
Over 13,000 people have been rescued from various areas by Army and IAF. But many people were trapped and awaiting help in upper stories of buildings in low-lying areas, including in Srinagar and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah assured them that help will reach soon.
“This is an unprecedented situation and we are doing the best we can under the circumstances. Please do not panic, we will reach you, I promise,” he said.
As the state struggled to deal with the enormity of the tragedy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the flood situation and termed it a “national level disaster”.
The Prime Minister shared the pain and anguish of the people as he was briefed in Jammu and in Srinagar by Omar and senior officials about the damage caused by the floods and said that the Centre stands shoulder to shoulder with J-K government and the people of the state in this hour of crisis.
“An additional special project assistance of Rs 1,000 crore will be made available by the government to the state for flood relief and rehabilitation. More assistance would be provided, if required, after a proper survey of the situation has been made,” the PM said.
Omar said, “We will now focus more on relief and rehabilitation. The situation is slowly going back to normalcy in Jammu while in Kashmir the situation has become worse. Especially, the situation is still bad in Srinagar. Our priority is to save people.”
150 boats, rescue teams, divers, flood lights and search lights are being sent to the state, officials said, adding there was also need for more tents.
In Pacheri village in Udhampur, seven people were today killed and over 20 were missing after nearly two dozen houses were buried in landslides. Twenty-two people died overnight in Jammu, taking the toll to 145, including 11 in Kashmir Valley.
Mata Vaishnodevi shrine yatra remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day with authorities saying the pilgrimage would resume only after the weather improves.