Leh flash floods: 115 killed, Relief team arrived

By Shiva Duangmee,Agence India Press,

Leh: The series of cloudbursts that hit Leh late on Thursday, August 5 night has claimed over 115 lives and wounded more than 350 people and over 400 people are still missing, among them are 31 soldiers, after flash floods hit Leh in Ladakh on, August 6.

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In the morning weather has improved and planes have started landing at the airport here carrying the disaster management team with doctors, medicine and other relief materials in the Indian Air Force flights on Saturday.

Leh has been virtually cut off from other areas while many vehicles are washed away by flash floods.

Traffic jam still exists on the highways to Leh making it difficult for delivering relief material to people staying here and the adjoining areas which have been devastated by a cloudburst, followed by flash floods.

The death toll has climbed to 115 even as 350 people including 25 Army men are still missing.
Earlier, heavy rains hampered rescue and relief operations. The airport was operational but no flight could land due to bad weather.

It’s been more than 24 hours since the calamity struck as about 350 people are injured. Severed communication and road links are also proving to be a big challenge. The cloudburst has affected at least 10,000 people.

Several foreigners were among the tourists reported to be stranded in Leh as air links were snapped after massive flash floods hit the town, washing away several government buildings and houses.

“Some foreign nationals are reported to have been affected in the natural calamity,” a statement by the External Affairs ministry said. People may call to the satellite phone number of the control room 00870-7636-13623 to find information. A 24-hour helpline has also been set up in the control room. The numbers are 09906990787 and 09906990835.

“So far, 115 bodies have been found. At least 350 people have been injured and they are undergoing treatment in Leh hospitals, a senior police officer said.

Several government offices and houses have been wiped out in the fury of the water. With several far flung villages were yet to be accessed by rescue teams in the high-altitude terrain of the Himalayan town, the death could cross 500, fear officials.

According to Agence India Press Leh correspondent, the weather has shown some improvement the Leh region and relief plane of the Indian Air Force has finally landed at the airport. However, rescue personnel are facing difficulty in delivery of relief material to the flood-hit people due to traffic jam the highways.

Early in the morning, heavy rains and bad weather forced authorities to suspend rescue and relief work in Leh.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who visited Leh on Friday, has sanctioned Rs 5 crore immediately for relief to victims.

Omar flew to Leh after the runway at the airport there was restored. The runway had been inundated due to the flood waters and mud slashes.

It is reported to carry three teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising 140 persons and all required equipment. Tents capable of use at high altitudes are also being dispatched. It is proposed to dispatch as many as 250 of these (with a capacity of 10 -12 persons).

A medical team consisting of seven doctors (and possibly four nurses) has also been dispatched by the same aircraft. Dispatch of some basic telecom equipment and a few personnel was also organised so as to facilitate earliest restoration of BSNL connectivity.

Directions have been issued to ITBP field formation at Leh to extend all necessary assistance to the Civil Administration in relief and rescue operations including supply of pre-fabricated shelters and ready to eat food/ration.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces under the guidance of the Ministry of Defence have mounted massive rescue and relief operations for the victims of the devastating cloudburst in Leh.

Leh is 434 km away from Srinagar and 474 km from Manali in Himachal Pradesh, to which it is connected through an alternative highway.

The cloudbursts occurred at Choglamsar village, which is situated at the top of Leh town.

Situated at 3,524 m above sea level, Leh town is spread over 45,110 sq. km, and comprises the main town and 12 adjacent villages.