(Pics) 20 killed in J&K floods; 45 more feared dead as bus washed away

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Srinagar, Sept 4: The toll in the incessant rains and flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir today rose to 20, even as 45 others were feared dead after a bus carrying them was washed away in Rajouri district.

"So far 20 deaths have been reported in the state due to heavy rains and floods," Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather told reporters at a joint press conference with Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand in Srinagar.

Giving the breakup of the figures, Rather said two deaths each have been reported from Anantnag, Baramulla and Budgam districts in Kashmir Valley and seven from Poonch, six from Reasi and one from Doda in Jammu region.

He said a bus carrying nearly 50 people, mostly members of a marriage party, was washed away in flash floods of Gambhir river in Rajouri district in Jammu region. He said while three persons had been rescued till now, around 45 people are feared dead.

Rescue efforts were on till late evening, he said. Rather said 150 houses have been damaged in the floods.

"More than 50 houses are submerged in Anantnag district. 15 villages in Kulgam district are also inundated," he said. The Minister said around 1,500 people were trapped in Asthal village in Kulgam and steps were being taken for their safety.

People wade through a street flooded due to incessant rains

People wade through a street flooded due to incessant rains at Hamdania Colony in Srinagar on Thursday. Ten persons have been killed so far due to flood in the Valley.

Worried residents watching the rise in the water level

Worried residents watching the rise in the water level from a bridge at the flooded Khumani Chowk, Bemina after heavy rains in Srinagar on Thursday. At least ten persons have been killed so far due to floods in the Valley.

A youth attempts to move at safer place

A youth attempts to move at safer place using a rope at Akran Nowpora in Kulgam after heavy rains deluged nearby villages on Wednesday.

Locals rescuing flood-affected villagers

Locals rescuing flood-affected villagers at Akran Nowpora in Kulgam after heavy rains deluged nearby villages on Wednesday.

Army personnel rescuing flood-affected villagers

Army personnel rescuing flood-affected villagers of Mirbaazar with a rope in Kulgam district after heavy rains deluged the village on Wednesday.

Locals rescuing flood-affected villagers of Mirbaazar

Locals rescuing flood-affected villagers of Mirbaazar in Kulgam district after heavy rains deluged the village on Wednesday.

Army personnel rescuing flood-affected villagers

Army personnel rescuing flood-affected villagers of Mirbaazar in Kulgam district after heavy rains deluged the village on Wednesday.

Rather said the state government has requisitioned helicopter services, but the choppers could not operate due to bad weather.

"Army and State Disaster Response Force are helping in rescue operations," he said. He said many water bodies were flowing above danger mark and many areas were inundated.

"The river Jhelum is flowing seven feet above the danger mark at Sangam in south Kashmir and Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar," he said.

The minister said a breach occurred at Kandizal area of Budgam, but it was plugged timely, saving 70,000 people from inundation.

"Many streams like Lidder in Pahalgam, Veshav, Rambiara, Feroz Nallah are flowing above danger mark and have inundated and damaged areas along their banks, affecting 70 villages,"

Rather said, adding the water discharge was at 70,000 cusecs against the normal of 25,000 cusecs. He said Chenab river in Akhnoor area of Jammu division is flowing four feet above the danger level.

The minister said 500 water supply schemes have been disrupted in the Valley with Anantnag, Baramulla, Kulgam and Shopian bearing the worst brunt.

He said a meeting of the state Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah deferred the normal agenda and sanctioned Rs 20 crore for rescue and relief operations.

Rather said the state government has sought an NDRF team from the Centre and the personnel were already on their way to the state.

The Deputy Chief Minister said, "Our first priority is to ensure safety of the people and provide them proper shelter and other arrangements."

He said the local administration was taking all necessary steps to provide relief to the people in the areas which have been cut-off from the rest of the state. He said the government has announced closure of all educational institutions for three days.

PTI

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