Leh: At least 115 people were killed, 350 injured and a few
hundred more are feared washed away in flash floods triggered by a massive cloudburst that hit Leh town of Jammu and Kashmir`s Ladakh region, washing away several government buildings and houses, police said Friday.
Eyewitness accounts and other sources fear that the
death toll could cross over 500 as several far flung villages
were yet to be accessed by rescue teams in this high-altitude
"So far, 115 bodies have been found. At least 340 people have been injured and they are undergoing treatment in Leh hospitals," Inspector General of Police (Kashmir zone) Farooq Ahmad told IANS.
The dead include four constables of the state police who were killed during the rescue operation in Leh town, while a sub-inspector of police, who was part of the rescue team, is still missing, he added.
Ahmad said the state police have set up tented accommodation for 2,000 victims in Choglamsar village and Leh town where free meals are being served.
The relief and rescue operation is being carried out in Leh town by over 6,000 soldiers as well as troopers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
As foot movement is extremely difficult, army helicopters had been pressed into service.
A three-member Central team comprising Farooq Abdullah,
Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prithviraj Chavan will be visiting the
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah flew to Leh to make an
on-the-spot assessment of the situation. He visited the areas
and spoke to the affected families. The state government has announced Rs two lakh relief for
the families of each of those killed in the natural disaster.
Reports reaching here said unprecedented massive cloudbursts triggered flash floods and mudslides in Leh town around midnight, washing away concrete structures including government offices, paramilitary camps and residential homes in the town.
The headquarters of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam limited (BSNL), a government polytechnic, the ITBP camp, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp, some government offices, main transmitter of All India Radio in the town and residential homes have been extensively damaged by the flash floods.
Leh airport runway was affected due to the inclement
weather but was made operational by afternoon to facilitate
landing of aircraft carrying relief material and rescue teams.
Because of the damage to the BSNL headquarters, communications have been completely disrupted in Leh town and it is difficult to reach anybody through phone there.
Due to the damage to the BSNL headquarters, communications have been completely disrupted in Leh town, 434 km from Srinagar and and 474 km from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to which it is connected through an alternative highway.
The cloudburst occurred at Choglamsar village, which is situated above Leh. Flash floods and mudslides followed the cloudbursts, unleashing the tragedy on the town, sources said.
Hundreds of locals waded through four feet deep mud to rush to higher ground as mudslides and flash floods inundated low lying areas in the town.
Those who did manages to reach the distrcit hospital was
in for a shock as the premises was also flooded. Bus stands
were flattened by the gushing water and vehicles were seen
floating in the town and the JKAP building was also washed
Leh, situated at 3,524 mt above sea level, is spread over 45,110 sq km, and comprises the main town and 12 adjacent villages.