Saturday, August 7, 2010

130 people killed in flash floods in Leh, 600 missing

Leh, Aug 7 (PTI) With the recovery of more bodies, the toll in the cloudburst here today climbed to 130 even as 600 more are feared washed away in the calamity that was followed by torrential rains and flash floods devastating this Himalayan town in Ladakh region. Sources fear that the death toll could cross over 500 as several far flung villages were yet to be accessed by rescue teams in this high-altitude terrain.

"We have recovered 130 bodies so far and at least 370 are injured. The number of missing is yet to be ascertained," State Police Chief Kuldeep Khoda said, adding the toll may go up. A small village before Choglumsur, which bore the brunt of the incessant rains, was completely wiped out as rescue workers were looking for survivors in the mud slush and debris. Over 200 people were still reported to be missing from the worst-hit village Choglumsar, 13 kms from here. A contractor told senior state administration officials that 150 labourers employed by him were missing from Shyong village where he had lodged them. The colony was set up along Indus river and the officials feared that many huts would have been washed away in the flash floods.

The Army has been asked to give an account of local and outstation labourers. Authorities said that the Army had suffered losses in Turtuk area. Some of the villages along the Chang La pass, world''s second highest motorable road, were also believed to have been washed away in the torrential rains. Union Minister Farooq Abdullah reached the area this morning from Kashmir. Later two of his cabinet colleagues -- Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prithviraj Chavan -- also reached here after making an earlier unsuccessful attempt to land. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had yesterday visited the affected areas and made an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

Army spokesman Colonel J S Brar told PTI that rescue operations which had slowed down due to heavy rains have picked up again. "Two commercial planes have landed. A relief plane is about to reach," he said. Police, Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) and civil administration are collectively involved in the rescue operation. "Police and ITBP have established camps in the affected area. Civil administration is helping to its maximum," Brar said.

"Among the injured, 300 have been treated. The other injured are treated in army hospital. The 31 Army jawans missing haven''t still been located. We found a body," he said.


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