Relief work has picked up in Kashmir, says army

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Udhampur, Sep 8: Relief work has picked up in the past two days in flood-hit Jammu and Kashmir and rescue work will not stop till every trapped person is evacuated, the army commander in the state said on Monday.

A statement issued by the defence ministry in New Delhi said nearly 20,000 people marooned by floods have been evacuated so far.

The navy and air force are also engaged in relief and rescue operations.

"In the last two days, as rain has stopped, relief work has picked up. In the next 48 hours (two days), our focus remains on Srinagar and south Kashmir," Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, general-officer-commanding of the army's Northern Command, said at a press conference here.

"Many people are stranded without food and water. We will continue the operation till every one is pulled out of this situation," he said.

The army commander said additional teams and boats have arrived and rescue work will be faster now.

Lt. Gen. Hooda said the situation in north Kashmir was "largely alright".

"In the Kashmir Valley and south Kashmir, the situation remains critical. The valley is cut off on both sides by road. Our focus is to rescue people stranded in their houses," he said.

About 70 percent of Srinagar and south Kashmir is reeling under floods.

Lt. Gen. Hooda said the situation in Jammu was better and it was slowly returning to normalcy.

He said 10,000 blankets and 3,000 tents have been provided by the army.

Food and water are being flown in from Pathankot and medical facilities are being flown in from Pathankot, Chandigarh and Delhi.

Some teams will go to the Pir Panjal mountain ranges to check out the tribal Gujjars and Bakarwals, Lt. Gen. Hooda said.

The toll in the worst floods in Jammu and Kashmir in 60 years is said to have crossed 150, while there has been extensive damage to property and infrastructure.

The army has deployed 205 columns for rescue and relief work and has given 4,000 blankets and 90 tents to flood victims.

"The army has also distributed 23,000 litres of water and 600 kg biscuits in the flood-affected areas," the ministry statement said.

A statement from the navy said marine commandos have rescued around 200 people at Haigaon on the Srinagar-Sopore highway. Rescue efforts were continuing near Pantha Chowk in Srinagar.

Naval diving teams were on standby in New Delhi, Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam. A medical team is also on standby in New Delhi for immediate deployment.

IANS

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