1,10,000 rescued in flood-hit Kashmir as relief efforts scaled up

Jammu: Relief efforts were scaled up in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir, especially summer capital Srinagar with additional personnel, boats, drinking water, blankets and food rushed to the state Thursday even as authorities said over 110,000 people have been rescued so far.

The death toll in the floods stands at over 200 so far. Authorities in Jammu said the toll in the region is 153 but was likely to go up as many people were still missing. A fresh batch of marine commandos, equipped with rubberized inflatable boats, diving sets and satellite phones, arrived in Srinagar where the waters of the Dal Lake and Jhelum river have swamped most of the tourist hub.

An official statement said that over 110,000 people have been rescued so far by the armed forces and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from different parts of the state. The Indian Army has deployed around 30,000 troops for rescue and relief operations - 21,000 in Srinagar region and 9,000 in Jammu region.

The armed forces personnel are distributing water bottles and food packets on a large scale. So far 2,24,000 litres of water, 31,500 food packets and over 375 tonnes cooked food have already been airdropped and distributed in the flood-affected areas, an official statement said.

Telecommunications companies worked to restore connectivity in the state where the unprecedented rain, floods and landslides led to massive damage to the telecom infrastructure, crippling communications. Airtel, Reliance Communications, Aircel and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, worked to restore networks across the state including Jammu, Kargil, Ladakh and Leh.

Home Secretary Anil Goswami, accompanied by a team of officers, reached Srinagar to coordinate relief and rescue operations, following directions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately depute senior officers from Delhi and other states to coordinate the relief operations with the local administration in Srinagar.

Modi, who Wednesday chaired a high-level emergency meeting on relief operations, emphasised immediate attention be given to providing basic necessities like food and water to people severely affected by the calamity. He also stressed the need for a massive effort to ensure basic hygiene and sanitation in the water-logged areas of Srinagar where over four lakh people are still estimated to be marooned.

Domestic airline companies like Jet Airways, GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India Thursday also added their bit to the rescue efforts by running special charter flights. Budget carrier GoAir operated a special flight Thursday morning from Leh to Delhi to evacuate 151 students stranded in the state while Jet has been flying in relief material like tents, blankets, food grains and medical supplies into Srinagar on its daily Delhi-Srinagar service without any charge.

It Thursday operated an additional Boeing 737 non-scheduled flight from Leh to New Delhi to evacuate 133 stranded passengers - in addition to the existing daily Leh-New Delhi service. National carrier Air India too operated special flights for the second consecutive day to evacuate stranded people.

According to an official statement, 8,200 blankets and 650 tents have been provided to flood victims while 80 teams of the Armed Forces Medical Services are in action. Four field hospitals have been established in Avantipur, Pattan, Anantnag and Old Airfield where medical aid is being provided. Till now, more than 21,500 patients have been treated.

More relief materials including blankets and tents, water bottles and food packets are being airlifted from Hyderabad, Baroda and Delhi. Until now, 1,081 sorties were undertaken by the armed forces helicopters and aircraft and 1,411 tonnes of relief materials dropped.

Keeping in view the urgent requirement of more boats, the army has deployed 90 more craft in Srinagar and adjoining areas. A total of 224 boats of Army and 148 of the NDRF are now involved in the rescue operation. Armed forces have also established 19 relief camps in Srinagar and Jammu region, where thousands of rescued people are being sheltered and being provided food and other basic amenities.

Thirteen tonnes of water purifying tablets and six water filtration plants with a capacity to filter 1.2 lakh bottles per day have also been transported to Srinagar, while engineering stores including suction and submersible pumps from Vishakhapatnam and Jodhpur are also being sent to flood affected areas.

Equipment of department of telecommunication, army, BSNL and some of private companies are also being sent to restore the communication systems. To restore road connectivity, five task forces of Border Roads Organisation, which include 5,700 personnel, have been pressed into service. On the Jammu-Srinagar highway, BRO personnel are trying hard to clear the road blocked by fresh landslide, the statement said.

Meanwhile, all staff members at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) have decided to voluntarily contribute a day's salary for relief operations, a statement said.

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