J&K Floods: Air Force, Army Intensify Rescue Efforts as Thousands Wait for Help

J&K Floods: Air Force, Army Intensify Rescue Efforts as Thousands Wait for Help

A flood-affected family being evacuated by an Air Force Helicopter in J&K on Saturday. (Press Trust of India Photo)

Srinagar:  A total of twelve AN-32, four IL-76, five C-130J and two C-17 transport aircraft of the Air Force have been pressed into operation to ferry men and relief material in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir. As the number of shelter-less people is rising, the Army is also providing tented accommodation to hundreds of people.

River Jhelum is flowing above danger mark in several places, breaching embankments, which has led to flooding of residential and commercial areas.

In Srinagar, the commercial hub of Lal Chowk and surrounding areas are completely submerged and water level at Civil Secretariat and High Court stands at six to eight feet.

Officials said that vital roads including the airport road, Exhibition Crossing, Hari Singh High Street, Lal Chowk and Regal Chowk are submerged under several feet of water.

Access to main hospitals like Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) and Lalla Ded too have been cut off due to flooding of roads.

Communication system has been disrupted with almost all private cellular networks out of order. The landline telephone network has also been badly affected.

"The rescue and relief operations has been intensified in view of the improvement in weather. It will continue till all people trapped in floods are rescued," Air Officer Commanding (AoC), Jammu Air Force Station, Air Commodore P E Patange said.

"Our priority is to save the lives first besides carrying out airdropping of ration, medicines to the trapped people," he said.

The weather department has forecast "no major rainfall" in the Valley as well as in Jammu in next four days.

Twenty two people died overnight, including five in Jammu, six in Udhampur, five in Reasi two each in Rajouri and Poonch taking the toll in Jammu region to 127.

Reaching out to jawans in marooned border outposts and fencing areas along the Indo-Pak border, Air Force choppers evacuated a total of over 180 BSF and Army jawans from various forward posts in Jammu sector today.

A senior official said that additional teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 100 boats have been rushed to Kashmir for launching rescue operations in the Valley.

"We are facing shortage of boats for rescuing people from inundated areas. A lot of 100 boats is being airlifted from Delhi," Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Rohit Kansal said.

Kansal said many people were trapped in several localities. "Due to shortage of boats we have not been able to reach these areas yet," he said.

The Army, meanwhile, has resumed search operation for two soldiers, who went missing after their boat capsized during a rescue and relief operation in flood-affected Pulwama district of Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday visited the state and conducted an aerial surveys of flood-hit areas. He also offered all possible assistance to Pakistan for carrying out relief operations in the flood-ravaged Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Mr Modi had on Thursday announced Rs 2 lakh as compensation for the family of those killed in the tragedy and Rs 50,000 for the seriously injured.

Other states have also been asked to assist in the relief efforts. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also appealed to all social organisations and NGOs to mobilise their resources.

Control rooms have been set up in Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi to actively monitor and coordinate the rescue and relief operations in the state.

A team of officials headed by Joint Secretary (Disaster Management) of the Home Ministry has been instructed to monitor from Srinagar rescue and relief operations in the state.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley exhorted for a "national effort" to support the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their hour of crisis and lauded the role of Indian Armed Forces in rescuing people stranded in the flood-hit areas.

"Lets have a national effort to support the people of the flooded state in this hour of crisis.

"Our armed forces are leaving no stone unturned to rescue people stranded in the flood hit Jammu & Kashmir," he tweeted on Sunday.

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