New Delhi: Battling against one of the worst floods in decades in Jammu and Kashmir region, Army Chief Gen Dalbir Suhag and General Officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Command Lt Gen DS Hooda on Monday said rescue operations will continue till everyone is pulled out.
“Soldiers won't return to barracks until last man is helped,” the Army Chief told reporters here.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Udhampur, Lt Gen DS Hooda said, “Around 20,000 people have been rescued, continuing with rescue efforts, 60 medical teams deployed across J&K,”
Giving a detailed report of the crisis situation, Hooda further said, “Situation is critical, the valley remains cut off. In the next 48 hours our focus remains on Srinagar”
“Priority is to rescue people stranded in there houses & to give people relief supplies,” the Army officer added.
Describing the procedures through which basic necessities are being flown into the flood-affected state, Hooda said, “South Kashmir is cut off, food and water supply is being flown in from Chandigarh.”
“More reinforcements will be brought in, Badami Bagh cantonment still submerged,” he added.
Further over the ground reality of the state, Hooda said, “Situation in Jammu region is slowly returning to normalcy, don’t see any major critical situation in Jammu. We are working with the civil administration(J&K) to restore electricity connection & water supply.”
While comforting people of Jammu and Kashmir, Hooda said, “Our rescue efforts 'Megh Rahat' will continue till everyone is pulled out & rescued. We are looking at 4-5 days to restore connectivity upto Srinagar and also Reasi.
As the death toll in the worst flooding to hit the state in six decades inched towards 200, the Centre has rushed more National Disaster Response Forces(NDRF) teams equipped with boats and other flood relief equipment. Naval commandos were also deployed for the first time.
Army, Air Force, NDRF and state agencies have so far rescued more than 25,000 people and lodged them in higher places in the Valley.
There was only slight drizzle in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley today in some relief after the state was pounded by rains since Tuesday even as the water level in many flood-hit areas slowly began to recede. The water level in Dal Lake in Srinagar is, however, rising.
NDRF chief OP Singh also said that the flood situation in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley was "very acute".
As dozens of boats were deployed in Srinagar by rescue agencies, desperate residents were huddled on rooftops and upper floors of their houses in several areas hoping to escape the flood waters.
Meanwhile, the Centre has directed free flow of transport via Manali and Leh to Srinagar, the only available surface network, a top central government official said here today.
The Home Ministry is also airlifting thousands of bottles of drinking water and blankets to Jammu and Kashmir to be distributed among the flood-affected people as there is shortage of potable water and woollens.
"As nights are getting colder in Kashmir valley, we are urgently arranging blankets and airlifting them to Srinagar. There is crisis of drinking water too. So, we are sending thousands of bottled water beginning today for next four-five days," the official said.
The three highways connecting Kashmir with Jammu have been damaged badly and the Border Roads Organisation has assessed the damage and conveyed that it will take at least five to seven days for their restoration, the official added.
Works are going on war-footing for restoration of BSNL telecommunication network which is expected to be normal in next three days.
Facing problems of connecting even top state government officials, the Centre has dispatched 15 high frequency wireless sets to Srinagar today and is expecting that the wireless service will be restored by tonight.
Army today rescued 1400 of its personnel and their families caught in flood waters in its headquarters at Badamibagh cantonment in Srinagar.
The cantonment along with areas of Shivpora and Indranagar in Srinagar were submerged as the water level rose as high as 18 feet due to breach in the Jehlum River.
"As many as 1400 Army personnel and families evacuated from within the Badamibagh cantonment comprised 120 children staying in cantonment camp, 900 Army personnel and 380 families residing in flood-affected areas", PRO Defence, Jammu, Lt Col Manish Mehta said, PTI reported.
He further said that the flood relief columns of Army are working tirelessly, risking their lives to help those trapped.
A total of 80 villages in the Valley have been provided assistance, food packets and medicines, he said.
With thousands of people trapped on the second floor, third floor or on the roof tops, Army plans to continue the rescue operations even at night, the spokesman said.
Also Read: Army evacuates 20,000 in Jammu and Kashmir
Earlier in the day, Navy commandos also joined the massive rescue operations being carried out by the Army, Air Force and NDRF in flooded parts of Kashmir Valley, rescuing around 200 stranded people on the Srinagar-Sopore Highway.
"Deployed for the first time to carry out rescue efforts in the flood-hit state, Naval marine commandos have rescued people caught in flood waters at Haigaon on the Srinagar - Sopore Highway," an Army official said, PTI reported.
"Rescue efforts are now continuing near Pantha Chowk, Srinagar," he added.
Naval diving teams are also on standby at New Delhi, Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam for the rescue efforts. A medical team is standby at Delhi for immediate deployment.
The Army and IAF have, meanwhile, extended rescue and relief operation to South Kashmir. "Helicopters have airlifted four boats and a medical team to Anantnag district in South Kashmir," a Defence Spokesman said.
The weather being clear, a number of helicopters have been pressed into action to transport rescue and relief material to isolated areas of South Kashmir, he said.
Relief camps have also been set up at Avantipur and Anantnag to help the flood-hit people, the spokesman said.
Heavy floods have wreaked havoc in Jammu and Kashmir, leaving nearly 200 people dead.
The Government has set up control rooms in Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar to facilitate relief and rescue operations and aid those who are stranded in the floods in Jammu and Kashmir.