80 residential houses damaged in Bijbehara, MeT predicts heavy to very heavy rainfall till Friday
Srinagar: Seven bodies have so far been retrieved from the debris of 19 residential houses that were washed away, along with as many as 40 people, after a cloudburst hit remote Honzar Dachchan village of Kishtwar district in Chenab valley region of Jammu and Kashmir, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
Seventeen of the missing people have been rescued, in injured condition, five of them with grievous injuries. The fate of 16 other people who went missing is still unknown. Heavy rains had halted rescue operations at the time this report was being filed.
Heavy rain, strong winds, and cloudbursts have wreaked havoc across Jammu and Kashmir since late Tuesday night. The forecast suggests that these weather conditions will prevail till Friday, July 30.
The tragic incident in Kishtwar took place at about 4:00 am Wednesday, some 50 kilometers from the district headquarters. “Following heavy rains, a cloudburst hit the village and washed off 19 residential houses and damaged two others partially,” a senior police official from the area said, adding that the police estimate 30 to 40 people to have been in the village when the cloudburst took place.
The police official said that rescue teams were immediately mobilised and sent to the area, following which at least 17 people have been rescued.
“All of the 17 rescued have injuries but five of them had some serious wounds and have been immediately shifted to the Kishtwar district hospital for treatment,” he said.
The rest, he said, were being treated by the two medical teams already deputed on the spot.
A column of the army and other disaster management agencies have reached the spot, in a bid to look for and save the missing people. “The inclement weather, though, is hindering the rescue operations,” the police official said. “SSP Shafqat Bhat is on the spot and leading the rescue operations.”
Also, 21 cowsheds were damaged in the cloudburst. The damage to the livestock could not be ascertained as yet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the central government was closely monitoring the situation. “All possible assistance is being made available…I pray for everyone’s safety,” Modi tweeted.
The LG of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, also condoled the loss of lives. “I am saddened over the loss of lives… my thoughts are with the bereaved families,” Sinha said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that a team from NDRF will soon reach the spot to assist the local administration, the army, and the SDRF. “I have spoken to the LG and the DGP regarding the cloudburst,” Shah said.
The police meanwhile have confirmed the identity of six of the seven deceased people, three of whom are women. Saja Begum, Rakila Begum, Ghulam Nabi, Abdul Majeed, Zaytoona Begum, and Towseef Iqbal are among the deceased.
“Identity of the seventh persons is yet to be ascertained,” the police official said.
In Kashmir valley, gushing winds and heavy rains have caused substantial damage to residential houses and other structures. “The extent of damage is being ascertained by the district administration,” an official in administration said.
The damage caused by flash floods, winds, and lashing rains has been fairly extensive in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district. Kashmir Reader talked to Tehsildar Bijbehara, Ghulam Rasool Bhat, who said that as many as 80 residential houses have been damaged in the area.
“Fortunately, no loss of human life has been reported. However, 10 goats have been killed as numerous animal sheds have been damaged,” Bhat said, adding that some serious damage has been inflicted upon the fruit-laden apple trees in the area.
The damage to the fruit orchards will be ascertained by the Horticulture department and then subsequently by the Revenue department, Bhat said.
In Bandipora area of north Kashmir, a flash flood caused partial damage to a mosque and a house. No one was injured, though. Deputy Commissioner of the district, Owais Ahmad, said that the district administration and police were closely monitoring the situation. He also appealed to people to stay away from water bodies.
An advisory has also been issued by the Meteorological (MeT) department. The department has warned people of flash floods, landslides, mudslides, and waterlogging in low-lying areas in the coming days.
“Widespread intermittent rains will continue till July 30 and some parts will receive heavy to very heavy rainfall,” an official of the MeT department said, advising people to remain alert.
He said that people should avoid visiting hilly areas and water bodies as the threat of mudslides, landslides, and flash floods looms large over the next few days.
A cloudburst incident also occurred at the Amarnath cave on Wednesday afternoon. However, there was no loss to life or property in the incident, officials said.
Two SDRF teams are at standby mode at the site while another team alongside required machinery is being mobilised from Ganderbal to avert possible exigency at the site, officials said.