Hundreds Trapped As Rain, Floods Create Havoc

3 September 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Gopal Sharma and Fayaz Bukhari

Jammu: Five persons including three children were buried alive in house collapse in Mahore area of Reasi, a BSF inspector died in bunker collapse in Poonch, an Army jawan and six villagers were washed away in Poonch and South Kashmir where as a Police Post got washed away and hundreds of villagers were trapped in Surankote and parts of Kashmir valley while many areas have been marooned in the Valley as rain and floods across the State created havoc since last night. A red alert has been sounded along river Chenab and Jhelum besides other rivers in Rajouri and Poonch by the administration, hundreds of people have been evacuated from the houses and localities in the flood prone areas while nearly fifty houses are said to have been damaged in Poonch and Surankote area. The power and water supply to most of areas in Poonch, Surankote and Mendhar has been snapped due to damage caused to water pumping stations and electric poles. A portion of the vital Sher-e-Kashmir bridge at Poonch, connecting Poonch city with Rajouri and Jammu has been damaged along with approach road, while at least eight more bridges in Poonch, Surankote and Mandi areas have been damaged due to massive floods in the nallahs coming down from Pir Panjal ranges. A villager, two tippers and eight horses besides about two dozen cattle were washed away in Suran and Poonch rivers today in flash flood. About 50 ft portion of approach road to main Poonch bridge and one side pillar damaged in flash flood in Poonch river this afternoon. The land link to Poonch was snapped. The traffic was diverted via Nanglai Sahib but Kalai bridge was also closed for traffic for some time as flood caused some damage to some area near side pillars of the bridge. The flood water caused damage to nearly 100 houses and buildings in Poonch city. Due to land slides between Surankote and BG the traffic on Poonch highway was suspended. The road has also been damaged at Bhata Durian resulting closure of BD Mendhar road. Massive land has washed away crop in Mendhar area due to flood. Pumping stations and water mills were damaged. The water and power supply has been snapped. Many students remained trapped for hours together due to flash flood in many nallahs in Mandi, Mendhar and Surankote today. When contacted, Defence spokesman (MoD) Col S D Goswami said Army has so far rescued 108 civilians and was still on the job. He said the Army went beyond the call of duty to rescue the civilians while risking their own lives. Reliable sources said the civil administration hadn't requisitioned the Army, which they should have done in such a situation but the Army started rescue operation on its own. Police Post Behramgalla, near Baliaz in Surankote was washed away along with some weapons, ammunition and record. The Army and Police has started massive rescue operation at many places. SSP and DC Poonch besides other officers were closely monitoring the situation. Soldiers of 25 RR and 16 RR were engaged in the rescue operation in Surankote and Poonch under 6 Sector RR. SDPO Surankote, Ajay Sharma said that at around 1 pm today, with the sudden flash flood in the river coming from Pir Panjal along Mughal Road, entire concrete structure of the Police Chowki was washed away. He said there is strength of about 22 policemen at the Chowki and most of them were deployed out side. Others inside the post managed to escape. He said about fifty percent of the weapons have been retrieved. He disclosed that Mughal Road was closed since last night due to massive land slides and snow fall at higher reaches of Pir Panjal. Road has been damaged at many places. About half a dozen bridges in the area have been damaged and road link to many villages including Fagla, Dobha etc snapped. Surankote- Mendhar and Surankote- Baliaz roads have also been closed. He said that people from about three localities along river Suran at Surankote town were rescued and removed to safer places. The water entered ITI complex and many houses and caused extensive damage to nearly fifty odd houses. He said the water pumping stations and electric poles have been damaged and water and power supply snapped in the entire area. The SDPO claimed that nearly 100 villagers got trapped at river island near Surankote and the Divisional Commissioner Jammu was approached to seek helicopter service for rescue operation. But it was told that IAF chopper could not take off from Jammu due to bad weather. Reports from Reasi said that five persons including three children were buried alive when land slides hit a Kutcha House at Chungra Dhok in Mallikote area of Mahore during early hours today. The family members were sleeping. They perished along with a dozen cattle. Those killed are identified as Zaitoon Begum (7), Khatoon Begum (2), Janu ( 5), daughters of Gulzar Ahmed, Baggi Bagum (50), wife of Rehmatullah and Nassir Ahmed, son of Abdul Rehman. The rescue operation could not be launched for evacuating bodies till this evening due to flash flood in a nallah and bad weather. 15 sheep of villager Mohd Sharief were killed as a Dhok collapsed in the higher reaches of Chaklas village in Mahore. Two horses of Mohd Yousuf were also killed due to Dhok collapse in the same area of Mahore. In Budhal area also about half a dozen houses reported to have been damaged. A BSF Inspector from 154 Bn was killed as a bunker near the LoC in Chhaprian Kanari area of Mandi got collapsed today. Sepoy, Balbir Singh of 40 R R was washed away in flash flood in Mandi area while, three more villagers Saira Bano, wife of Mushtaq from Mandi, Mohd Ishfaq, son of Mohd Aslam, resident of Dangri and Mohd Aslam, resident of Dugran in Surankote were also washed away in flash flood. Another unknown villager was washed away in Poonch river this afternoon along with his 7-8 horses. Two tippers which had gone to the Surankote and Poonch rivers also washed away, the driver and labours however, managed to escape. The main bridge at Kotranka also suffered some damage due to flood and the traffic was suspended by the police authorities. Massive land erosion has been reported from Kewal, Peeri, Kandi and Budhal area due to floods. The power supply has been snapped to many areas. In Darhal area 22 trapped villagers were rescued by Police and 38 RR unit under Romeo Force today. Traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was suspended for about three hours from 10 am today due to land slides near Panthial. However, traffic was restored after 1 pm. The road the through when then the last reports reached here late this evening. The Srinagar- Leh Highway was also closed due to land slides in at several places between Sonamarg and Kargil. River Chenab was flowing near Danger mark today as water level reached 33 ft this evening. The district administration Jammu sounded red alert along the low lying areas of river Chenab and Tawi. At Jia Pota Ghat at Akhnoor a temple also submerged in the flood water. Reports from Kashmir said at least two people are dead and 20 others are trapped and scores of stranded people have been rescued and hundreds have moved to safer places after authorities sounded flood alert in Kashmir valley following incessant rains with rivers and rivulets flowing above danger mark. Assistant Commissioner, Tasaduq Hussain, told Excelsior that river Jhelum is flowing above danger mark in Srinagar and South Kashmir. 'We have declared flood alert across Kashmir as Weatherman has forecast rains till Saturday', he said. The Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Farooq Lone, told Excelsior that two people were washed away in flash floods after a bund got breached by overflowing Ferozpora nallah in Baramulla district this evening. He said that their bodies were not fished out yet. The DC indentified them as 37-year-old Abdul Rashid Gojri and Ghulam Ahmad Bhat, 34, of Hardu Aboora in Magam. Lone said the rising water level in the stream has blocked chances of a rescue team to evacuate the labourers who are trapped on an island-like area in Shrai village. 'Six labourers are safe. But their rescue is not possible. We have requested Airforce and army to rescue them. We are in touch with them over their mobile phones and, hopefully, the rescue operation will be started tomorrow morning,' Lone said. The DC said that Srinagar-Gulmarg road is under water near Magam and it has been closed for the traffic. The Assistant Commissioner Kashmir said that seven persons were rescued by the administration in Kulgam after twenty nomads were trapped on the banks of the Vaishav stream in Akhran village of district Kulgam. The ACK said that a helicopter was sent to rescue them but failed weather hampered the operation. 'We will try to heli recue them tomorrow', he added. The heavy rain has led to flash floods at several places in Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipora, Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian. The ACK said that Jhelum is flowing above danger mark. 'The water level at Ram Munshi bagh at 9:55 pm. was recorded at 18 feet which is above danger mark. Water level at 9 pm. at Sangam was 26.1 feet', he added. The flood waters have entered many villages in Kulgam, forcing residents to vacate their houses for safer places. District Commissioner Kulgam Nassir Ahmad Wani told Excelsior the situation in the district is 'vulnerable' because of the incessant rainfall from the last 36 hours. Wani said the rescue operation was ongoing in Banjarpora in Akhran village to evacuate the nomad families who are trapped on the banks of the Vaishav stream. He said more than 35 families, including 25 members of Bakarwal alongwith their flocks were trapped in it. In addition, eight families comprising 37 members, including children, were rescued by the administration when they were trapped in flood in Birigam in Devsar. A youth who was trapped inside the Sindh stream in Ganderbal was rescued by the administration. Manzoor Ahmed Ganai, a sand-digger of Chak Watalbagh was trapped in Sind stream this morning and was rescued after a five-hour long rescue operation. Ganie got trapped in the stream in the morning when he had gone to bring back the sand digging tool kit while it was raining. Suddenly the water level rose and he could not come back and was trapped. The continuous rain has farmers and fruit growers in the Valley worried as their crops will get damaged if the rain does not stop. The paddy fields have been submerged at several places. The incessant rains threw life out of gear in Kashmir today, with roads and lanes in particularly in Srinagar water-logged. Several localities in the city including Safa Kadal, Eidgah, Nowshehra, Soura and Ali Jan Road were inundated with the water. Similarly, Gulshan Nagar, Mehjoor Nagar, Gogji Bagh, Wazir Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh and Bemina also saw its streets and roads submerged in water. The ACR said that schools in Srinagar, Anantang, Pulwama and Shopian have been closed for tomorrow following flood alert. Deputy Commissioner Budgam said that the adminiration rescued people in Chadoora area near the streams and people living in flood prone areas were asked to move to safer places. He said that in Bemina there has been breach in a bund posing flood threat to several areas. SP Shopian, Showkat Ahmad, said that Rambi ara is flowing over danger mark and there is threat of floods in the area. He said that Shopian Zawoora road is under water in Shopian town and the traffic on this road has been closed. According to MeT office, Qazigund received the highest amount of rainfall recording 160.2 mm rains since yesterday morning. Kokernag area recorded 113.5 mm rainfall during this period followed by Pahalgam at 70.4 mm and Srinagar at 52.8 mm, it said. Heavy rainfall has resulted in water logging of many roads in Srinagar causing traffic chaos across the city. Electricity supply to some areas has also been snapped due to heavy rains. Meanwhile, in view of the continuous heavy rain fall and flood-like situation developing in many districts of the State, Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey held a video conference with the Deputy Commissioners. He impressed upon the officers to take all necessary precautionary measures and remain vigilant to tackle any untoward incident. He asked the Deputy Commissioners to extend immediate relief measures to the affected people. Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, who is personally monitoring the situation has put the Administration on high alert, directing them to be at the beck and call of the people wherever required. Chief Minister has directed the Divisional Commissioners to place senior officers on duty for monitoring the situation and initiate all necessary measures to safeguard the people. He directed them to keep control room operative round the clock so that there is close contact between the people and the concerned officers. Omar Abdullah received brief from the Administration about the situation in Kulgam, Shopian, Baramulla, Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi and other areas where water has increased to dangerous levels. He also received brief about the rescue and relief operations put in place by the Administration to meet the challenges. He said that rescue operations on war-footing should be carried out. State Administration has requested the Air Force authorities to keep aerial rescue plan in place for utilization.