J&K floods: 1.5 lakh people still marooned, says Omar Abdullah

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said 1.5 lakh people are still marooned after the worst floods in a century devastated the state last week even as he said there was some concern over rising water levels in northern parts of the Valley.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said 1.5 lakh people are still marooned after the worst floods in a century devastated the state last week even as he said there was some concern over rising water levels in northern parts of the Valley.

As fears of possible outbreak of water-borne diseases mounted with flood waters receding, Omar also said that Kashmir has a history that lives are not lost as much in floods as in the aftermath of this natural disaster.

"Right now, the focus still remains on rescue operations as 1.5 lakh people are still marooned. Our primary focus is on provision of relief like rations, medicines and supplies they require," the Chief Minister told in the midst of overseeing the relief operations. J and K has been in the grip of floods since September 2.

A Defence Spokesman said in Jammu that around 1.5 lakh people have so far been rescued in military and civil rescue operations.

The Chief Minister said the water levels are "receding" in central Kashmir but they are still above the danger mark and the government was waiting for it to go below the danger mark to "plug the breaches" on the banks of river Jhelum.

"Water levels are rising in some parts of North Kashmir. That is a matter of concern. We are hoping that North Kashmir will not be as badly affected as the rest," he said.

Omar said that as per the figures available with the state government so far, 129 people had lost lives in Jammu region whereas 30-35 people were found dead in Kashmir valley.

Asked about the extent of loss of lives in the floods, he said, "I am hoping and praying that the loss of life will not be as severe as we expect it. Because looking at the situation, the death toll is still remarkably low. I am hoping and praying that it will not be as bad some have been fearing."

"Our focus is on provision of medicines and water- purifying medicines like chlorine and lakhs of chlorine tablets have been distributed. We have asked municipalities to activate the sanitation system. Our primary concern is rescue and provision of food, prevention of diseases and epidemics is our priority," he said.

He said that "within the constraints of (the number of) helicopters, we are doing the best job possible," when asked if the government was able to rescue enough people considering the magnitude of the floods.

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