IAF choppers unable to make sorties due to weather since morning
Srinagar: Hope is dwindling for the rescue of 19 persons who have been missing since Wednesday morning after a cloudburst washed away an entire village in Chenab Valley region of Jammu and Kashmir, leaving 7 people dead and 17 others injured.
More than 60 hours have passed since the trail of destruction that followed in the wake of the cloudburst in Honzar Dachchan village, but rescuers still have no clue on the whereabouts of those missing.
The incident took place at about 4:00 am Wednesday morning, when heavy rains were followed by a cloudburst in remote Honzar Dachchan village, some 50 kilometres from Kishtwar district headquarters.
“19 residential houses were washed away with about 40 people in the flood,” a senior official from Jammu division said. Subsequently, 7 bodies were retrieved and 17 people were rescued in injured condition.
“5 of them had to be taken to nearby Soundar for treatment and later two were airlifted to Kishtwar,” the official said.
Following the incident, rescue teams from police, the army, the NDRF, SDRF and some local NGOs reached the village and have been trying to trace the missing persons.
The rescue operations have, however, not been smooth due to inclement weather. Rains have continued to lash the area, making it difficult to carry out search and rescue operations.
“Thursday night the rains got quite heavy and continued through Friday morning. The rescue operations could only be resumed after the weather cleared a bit late on Friday afternoon,” the official said.
Asked whether the hopes of finding anyone alive were thinning out, the official said that the rescue operations will continue till the last missing person is found. “Let’s not think about the chances of survival and only focus on the rescue operations,” the official said.
Eyewitnesses say that the village is a picture of devastation with only mud, boulders, and debris of the houses washed away by the cloudburst visible. “Gloom has descended over the whole area and people are on the edge as their loved ones remain missing. Their hopes are dwindling but they are praying for a miracle,”
an eyewitness, part of a rescue team, told Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, giving an impetus to the rescue operations, three helicopters were pressed into service by Indian Air Force (IAF), one each from Srinagar, Udhampur, and Jammu. The 8 sorties made so far have ferried 44 NDRF and SDRF personnel along with a relief load of 2250 kg.
The inclement weather however has not allowed any more sorties since early Friday morning.
Also, the full extent of the devastation is yet to be gauged. As many as 21 cowsheds were washed away in the cloudburst and there has been no word so far on the loss of livestock.
The official said that an assessment of the loss can only be carried out after the hunt for the missing people is concluded. “For now the utmost important thing to do is look for the missing and take care of the people affected,” the official said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and J&K LG Manoj Sinha have reiterated that they have been monitoring the situation and the rescue operations in Kishtwar.