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Flash flood ravages Ladakh, over 100 killed

Last updated on: August 6, 2010 21:54 IST

Flash flood ravages Ladakh, over 100 killed

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Over 110 people were killed and a few hundred more are feared washed away in a cloudburst followed by torrential rains and flash floods that devastated this Himalayan town in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir early Friday morning.

Eyewitness accounts and other 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 112 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 that the toll may go up.

Click on NEXT to see more photos of the destruction...


Photographs: Umar Ganie
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Leh airport runway was affected but was made operational by afternoon to facilitate landing of aircraft carrying relief material and rescue teams.

State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah flew to Leh to have an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. He visited the flood-hit areas and spoke to the affected families.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed grief over the loss of life and property in the flash floods and announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs one lakh each to next of kin of each of the deceased.


Image: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah surveys a flood-hit area

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The state government also announced that Rs 2 lakh relief would be given to the families of each of those killed in the natural disaster.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad will fly to Leh on Saturday with relief supplies and a team of 140 personnel of the National Disaster Relief Force along with doctors and paramedical staff in an IL76 IAF aircraft.

Massive rescue operations were underway involving the state police, paramilitary forces and the army in Leh town. Security personnel were also rushed from Kargil to assist the civil administration in rescue and relief operations.



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While many villages like Sabu, Phyang, Nimoo and Choglamsar were affected, the city bore the maximum brunt of the calamity.

The communication equipment of BSNL was also washed away in the flash floods and rains that hit the town and adjoining villages in middle of night at around 2 am. Various buildings and mud-houses in old Leh town were wiped out in the incessant rains.

The cloudbursts left a trail of death and destruction. The district hospital was flooded, bus stands flattened and vehicles were seen floating in the town.

Leh is located at a height of 11,500 feet above sea level, 424 kilometres from Srinagar.



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Jammu and Kashmir Police has set up two camps and were providing food and shelter to nearly 2,000 people, Khoda said, adding that the camps would remain operational till alternate arrangements were being made.

50 CRPF jawans were rescued from the flooded areas, Khoda said, adding the JKAP building was also washed away in the rains.

The dead included three Army Supplies Corps jawans and three Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police (JKAP) constables.



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Flash flood ravages Ladakh

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Home Minister P Chidambaram said that over 6,000 security personnel have been deployed in Leh to carry out the rescue operations.

"6,000 Army and ITBP personnel fully acclimatised to atmosphere in Leh are there and they are engaged in rescue operations," he said in New Delhi.

The district hospital and two buildings housing offices of the Union Home Ministry were also affected. All commercial flights from Delhi to Leh were cancelled.



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Flash flood ravages Ladakh

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A defence spokesman said many civilians including foreign tourists were stranded at various places and efforts were on to rescue them.

He said the affected areas stretch from Pang village on Rohtang-Leh Highway up to Nimmu on Leh-Srinagar Highway, a distance stretching more than 150 km.

Air Force has opened a disaster management cell at Chandigarh, consisting of three senior officers, including medical officers.



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