Kashmir reeling under worst floods in six decades

 Kashmir was on Wednesday battling the worst floods in nearly six decades with four more people killed in the deluge that left a trail of devastation across the Valley, damaging roads, over two dozen bridges and standing crops worth hundreds of crores of rupees.

Srinagar: Kashmir was on Wednesday battling the worst floods in nearly six decades with four more people killed in the deluge that left a trail of devastation across the Valley, damaging roads, over two dozen bridges and standing crops worth hundreds of crores of rupees.

Due to heavy rains since Wednesday, River Jhelum and many other streams were swollen and had inundated most areas in five districts in the Valley leaving 10 people dead. Three more districts out of 10 have also been affected.

Three persons were washed away today by the strong currents in Sukhnaq Nalla in central Kashmir Budgam district while another youth was drowned in Vishnu Nalla in south Kashmir Kulgam district, police said. State Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather had yesterday said that six persons had died due to floods in the Valley.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been monitoring the relief and rescue operations and visited several flood affected areas in south Kashmir today. Omar also supervised the evacuation of patients from Bone and Joint Hospital at Barzulla late last night.

Officials said as many as 60 major and minor roads have been cut off and 30 bridges washed away, hampering the relief and rescue operations.

A senior official said this is the worst flood recorded in recent history of Kashmir.

"The level of water in River Jhelum at upstream Sangam in Anantnag district is well above the measurable mark of 34 feet... The measuring metre has disappeared, which has resulted in flooding of Anantnag and surrounding areas," the official said.

He said there was no mention in official records about this happening before. "We have seen the level of Jhelum rise to 26 or 27 feet in the past but never beyond that," he added.

Jhelum in Srinagar is flowing at 22.40 feet, 4.40 feet above danger mark, as many areas in the summer capital of the state have been submerged.

Schools and colleges across the state have been closed till Monday while Universities in Kashmir have suspended all work for two days.

Eighty-five-year-old Haji Abdul Gani Dar said he had seen such a flood in 1957 when almost the entire Kashmir Valley was submerged.

Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been called in to assist the civil administration in relief and rescue operations in the flood affected areas.

"Army has been asked to assist in the relief and rescue operations in submerged areas of south Kashmir and Srinagar city while four companies of NDRF have already arrived and have been dispatched to the affected areas," Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Rohit Kansal told PTI.

Most parts of south Kashmir including Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam district have been submerged.

Officials said the water level in Rambiara stream in Shopian district was also rising very fast, threatening to inundate the only south Kashmir district not affected by floods so far.

Doodhganga stream, which flows through southern part of the city, has breached the embankments at several places, flooding the residential areas.

People in many areas have either shifted out of the submerged areas or moved to higer floors, the officials said.

The threat of floods has increased in north Kashmir region after River Jhelum breached the danger mark of 14 feet at Asham in Bandipora district, they said.

The authorities have evacuated people from many areas in Bandipora in anticipation of flooding today.

The Sindh nallah in Ganderbal district is also flowing above the danger mark while the water level in streams and rivulets in Budgam district is also rising fast.

There has been no respite from the rains which began on Tuesday as the heavy downpour continued through the night.

Standing crops like paddy and horticulture crops worth hundreds of crores of rupees have been damaged due to the floods. The exact quantum of loss will be known only after the flood situation eases.

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