Flood fury turns vacation in 'paradise' into nightmare

Srinagar, Sep 11: For 73-year-old Mohd Irfan of Mumbai, a lifelong dream to visit Kashmir turned into a disaster. On his first visit to the Valley, he found himself caught along with his family in the middle of the catastrophic floods which has ravaged the state.

The family from Ghatkopar in Mumbai was today rescued by air force and brought to the technical airport here, from where arrangements were being made to send them home.

"It was our long cherished desire to visit Kashmir and it was our first visit here," said Irfan. A cloth merchant in the Maharashtra capital, Irfan said the torrential downpour in Kashmir began the day he landed here with his family.

"We were enjoying the rain as the whether was cold and pleasant; We had no idea that our visit would leave a permanent scar on our memories," Irfan said, distressed with the miseries which they had to go through on what was to be a vacation in the lap of the scenic Himalayas.

The hotel near Dal Lake where Irfan's family was putting up got flooded and many guests were trapped inside with no food or water. "It was around 5:30 in the morning when the hotel staff asked us to rush to the third floor of the hotel," Irfan said.

"We had no idea what was going on, but we rushed there in a panic to save our lives." Irfan said that the ground floor of the hotel was inundated in no time.

"It was like we were going to die any moment as the water level continued to rise," he said. Equally harrowing was the experience for another set of tourists, the Dantwanis of Gujarat. Harsh Dantwani (52), a resident of Dohad in Gujarat, said he had come to Kashmir with his entire family.

The experience caught in the floods in Kashmir, he said, was like they "were about to die any moment". "As the level of water started to rise, we were more worried about the safety of my two grandchildren," Dantwani said.

"You cannot imagine the fear we all went through when we saw the water level rising. It was like we were about to die any moment. The kids were the most scared," he said.

The people who were stuck in their hotels around Dal Lake said it was the locals who came to their rescue. "As soon as the rain stopped, some locals rescued us using boats and wooden planks.

"They took us to their homes and provided us with food and shelter, they are the real heroes for us" said Dantwani. "We are leaving Kashmir with many bad memories which we are sure will haunt us throughout our lives," he said.


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