South Asia News
137 dead, more than 400 missing in Indian Kashmir floods
Aug 8, 2010, 9:25 GMT
Srinagar, Kashmir - The death toll from floods in Indian Kashmir reached 137 Sunday as rescue workers recovered more bodies, officials and news reports said.
At least 400 people were still unaccounted for, a government official said in Srinagar, capital of Jammu and Kashmir state. He said the death toll was likely to rise.
The two main highways to Leh, capital of Ladakh district, were cut off and communication lines were down.
The runway at Leh airport had been cleared of mud and commercial and military flights were both taking off and landing, NDTV news channel reported.
Floods and mudslides late Thursday hit Leh and its surrounding villages, damaging buildings and toppling communication towers.
Scores of houses in nearby Choglamsar village were buried under mud, dimming chances of finding survivors, Indian Express newspaper reported.
Buddhist monks and residents joined the army and government workers in the rescue and relief efforts
Survivors, including tourists, were in temporary camps and high altitude tents flown in by the military, officials said.
Arrangements had been made for more than 700 foreign tourists stranded in Leh to contact their embassies over telephone.
No foreign tourist was among those dead or missing, Jammu and Kashmir inspector general of police Farooq Ahmed was quoted as saying by IANS news agency.
The picturesque, Buddhist-majority Ladakh region high in the Himalayas is a popular tourist destination, particularly for adventure sports.
An estimated 3,000 Indian and foreign tourists were in the area during the floods.
A group of federal ministers who conducted an aerial survey of the region said the scale of devastation was huge, with remote villages swept away or flattened by mudslides, PTI news agency reported.
The victims were mostly from Leh, its adjoining villages and migrant workers housed in camps at construction project sites.
The Ladakh region borders China and has a heavy Indian Army presence. Among the dead were 28 soldiers manning a border post at Tyakshi. Another 33 soldiers were missing in the Turtuk area, an Army officer said.
The civilian hospital in Leh was damaged by the floods. Medical teams that were flown in to assist were operating in the military hospital and a temporary building.
Severely injured villagers were being airlifted from adjoining areas by helicopters, as many roads were washed away or buried.
The federal government asked private airlines to run additional services to enable tourists to return from Leh.