9 dead, 19 missing, 17 hurt; scores of houses damaged

Army jawans assisting SDRF and police in rescue operation at village Honzar in Kishtwar (left) and a portion of temple submerged in flooded Chenab river at Akhnoor on Wednesday (right). -Excelsior pics by Tilak Raj & Rakesh
Army jawans assisting SDRF and police in rescue operation at village Honzar in Kishtwar (left) and a portion of temple submerged in flooded Chenab river at Akhnoor on Wednesday (right). -Excelsior pics by Tilak Raj & Rakesh

Cloudbursts hit Kishtwar, Bandipora, Shri Amarnath cave

Alert sounded as Chenab flows above danger mark

Gopal Sharma/
Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, July 28: Seven people were killed while at least 19 went missing and 17 injured, when a cloudburst hit a remote village in Dachhan area of Kishtwar district last mid night, while three more incidents of cloudburst were reported from Bandipora, Shri Amarnath cave and Bhalessa area of Doda wherein several structures were damaged, while two persons died in two separate incidents of flood and landslide in Rajouri and Kargil districts today.

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Chenab river was flowing above danger mark at Akhnoor this evening as the heavy rain and thunderstorm wrecked havoc across the region since last night. Massive flood in the river and rising level of water in Salal Dam forced NHPC authorities to open gates of the reservoir this afternoon. The Dam authorities, district administration Reasi and Jammu sounded alert and warned the people to remain away from the banks of the river for the next 24 hours. At Akhnoor, the Chenab water level had crossed 35 ft mark (danger mark) after 5 pm while it was around 33 ft (alert mark) around 3 pm on Wednesday.
Official sources said that cloudburst hit remote Honzar village of Dachhan area in Kishtwar district today, killing at least seven people. At least 19 persons were still missing while 17 people received injuries. The condition of five of them was stated to be serious and they were removed to District Hospital, Kishtwar late this evening.
” We have recovered seven bodies from the debris but 19 are still missing,” an official said, adding that out of the 17 evacuated, condition of five was critical. A ration depot and a foot bridge also perished in the flash flood along with at least 21 houses and equal number of cattle sheds,” the official added.
Soon after receiving information, the police team led by SHO Honzar rushed to the spot and launched rescue operation with the help of locals of the area.Subsequently, an Army column and SDRF teams also reached the spot and joined rescue operation. At least 7-8 houses have totally perished in the flash flood.
Sources revealed that area is very remote and there is no Mobile phone communication. The Army and Police were establishing contact only through satellite phones. SSP Kishtwar Shafkat Hussain along with some police force and medical team left on foot for supervising operation at the village while Deputy Commissioner, Ashok Sharma was closely monitoring the rescue operation through satellite phone from Kishtwar.
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr Raghav Langar who reached Kishtwar along with IGP Jammu Mukesh Singh by road late this evening, told Excelsior that due to bad weather chopper could not fly to Kishtwar and Dachhan area for rescue operation. He said five seriously injured persons were shifted to District Hospital Kishtwar this evening. So far seven dead bodies have been recovered while more than 15 persons were still said to be missing.
Dr Langar further said that SSP Kishtwar along with the police, SDRF teams, assisted by Army were on the spot and conducting search operation for the missing persons. The Medical and Revenue officials teams from district headquarters have also been rushed to the affected village, the Div Com added.
A senior officer from District Administration Kishtwar said that Deputy Commissioner was in touch with the people engaged in rescue operation and the top officers in the UT Administration. He said the people were fast asleep when this natural calamity stuck Honzar village. They could not get time to run for safety.
He disclosed that seven victims whose dead bodies have been recovered so far are identified as Saja Begum, wife of Ghulam Mohammad; Rakila Begum, wife of Zakir Ahmed (Nomad); Ghulam Nabi, son of Ghulam Rasool; Abdul Majid, son of Nazir Ahmed; Zaitoona Begum, wife of Haji Lal Din (Nomad), Touseef Iqbal, son of Mohammad Iqbal and Ghulam Mohiuddin, son of Naseer Ullah, all residents of Honzar.
Five seriously injured were identified as Aziz Ahmed, son of Abdul Samad; Rustam Chopan, son of Ghulam Chopan; Mohd Imran, son of Abdul Rehman; Sharifa Begum, wife of Abdul Wahid and Wasim Akram, son of Bashir Ahmed. Mohd Imran was later referred to GMC Hospital, Jammu. Sharifa and Wasim were being shifted from PHC Suid to DH Kishtwar tonight. Twelve other injured are-Akhtar Hussain, son of Abdul Rehman, Bilal Hussain, Nissar Ahmed, sons of Habibullah; Asar Ahmed, son of Abdul Wahid; Anzar ul-Islam, son of Ab Rehman; Musra begum, wife of Gh Ahmed; Naseem Begum wife of Mohd Jabar, his sons Umar and Sadam; Rehana Bano and Tanveer Hussain , children of Mohd Shafi and Shama begum, wife of Mohd Iqbal, all residents of Honzar.
The official said that as per locals at least 19 people were still missing. Seven houses and one ration depot were totally damaged in the flash flood.
A Defence spokesman said that on a request from civil administration, two columns of the Army were launched to assist police and SDRF to carry out rescue operations for civilians of village Honzar, in Kishtwar. The village was caught in a flash flood due to a cloudburst, which led to sudden rise in water level in Malu and Nath Nallaha’s. Indian Army responded to the situation quickly and launched two columns for the rescue operations.
He said Army has also made provision of meals for 100 persons and provided ration. The weather conditions over the village continue to remain adverse, thereby increasing the difficulty in rescue operations. However rescue and relief efforts were still underway.
The MeT office has also sounded weather alerts with advisory. ”At present, it’s cloudy at most places of J&K with thunderstorms and rain at some places of Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi and neighbourhood,” Sonam Lotus, Director IMD, J&K said.
He said that widespread intermittent rain will most likely continue till July 30 and heavy rain is also possible at some places. In an advisory, the MeT said that it may lead to flash flood, mudslide, landslide and water logging (low lying areas). ”Accordingly, people are advised to remain alert and very cautious as water levels have increased in all rivers. Don’t venture out on hilly and landslides, mudslide prone areas,” Dr Lotus said.
Reports from Samba said that three minor boys were rescued by State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel on Wednesday after they were caught in a flash flood near swollen Basanter river in Samba district.
The SDRF team swung into action after getting information that three boys, aged between seven and 13 years, from village Mananu, Nud were trapped in flash floods adjoining river Basanter early this morning. The boys were evacuated to safety during an hour-long rescue operation.
In view of adverse weather forecast by the Meteorological Department and the increase in the water level in the Chenab river, the District Administration Ramban has sounded high alert and has taken every precautionary measure to meet any eventuality.
Deputy Commissioner (DC), Mussarat Islam today visited the localities along the river Chenab in Ramban town to get the first hand assessment of the situation. Following heavy downpour in the region, Chenab has been in spate which has compelled the Ramban district administration to put the departments and the Tehsil Disaster Management Committees on high alert.
The DC said that besides concerned Tehsildars, the Quick Response Teams and Flood Control Department have also been alerted and told to warn the general public not to venture near any water body be it Chenab or any nallah.
He said that the Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic), NHW and Superintendent of Police are actively coordinating with the district administration to regularly update the status of NH-44.
The DC said that so far there has been no report of loss of life or damage to any property in Ramban district and the details of damages, if any, are being collected from all areas.
As per advisory issued by the Baglihar Hydroelectric Project, the general public of district Ramban has been advised to refrain from going near the banks of Chenab.
Reports from Rajouri said that a brick kiln worker was washed away in Manawar river near Bathuni while another was rescued by police team led by SHO Saleem Jeelani and locals. Due to heavy rain, there was flood in the river and adjoining Nallahs. While Sanjay Yadav from Chhattsgarh was washed away, another young labourer Jamuna Das also from Chhattisgarh was rescued. The body of the deceased could not be recovered.
The police also shifted four families at Bela Colony in Rajouri town to safer place and rescued three more persons from the flooded river near Salani bridge in the evening. At least 10 houses were reported to have been damaged in the district since last night due to rain. Two houses of Abdul Qayoom and Liaqat Husain collapsed at Bagla on Chingus area. A Kucha house of one Misri Khan at Kanthol in Kotranka also collapsed today. However, no loss of life was reported.
Four Army jawans were injured when a boulder fell on a bunker in Kalsian area near the LoC in Nowshera sector today. Identified as Naik Sukhbir Singh and Kuldip Singh, Havaldar A K Sharma and Sepoy Ravinder Singh, they were shifted to Army Hospital, Rajouri.
Due to rain, flood and land slides Reasi-Mahore, Mahore -Gool and Mahore Chassana and Budhal road were also blocked. Most of the roads in Udhampur-Rajouri areas were also closed. Basohli-Bani road also remained shut at Sukka Nallah for about five hours. However, it was restored in the evening.
The District Administration Jammu sounded alert in Akhnoor, Pargwal, Jourian and Khour areas after water level in Chenab crossed danger mark. Several families from the low lying villages in Jourian, Pargwal and Khour were removed to safer places. However, the water level in Tawi river remained between 6-7 ft during the day.
Birwan bridge at Udhampur has suffered more damage due to heavy rain last night. This bridge has now been totally closed for vehicular movement.
Another cloudburst occurred near the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas today, but there was no loss of life in the incident, officials said.
The incident took place in the afternoon, leading to shooting stones which caused damage to some tents, he said.
However, there was no loss of life in the incident. The officials said two teams of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are already deployed at the holy cave while an additional team has been deputed from Ganderbal district.
In Kargil area of Ladakh a Nepali labourer died due to landslide at Shargandik while loss of property has been reported from Sangrah, Khowous, Khangral, Stakchey and Mangbore Khangral due to sudden cloudburst and flash floods.
Residential houses, Agriculture land, trees, cattle and Small Hydro Project of KREDA, has been damaged totally and the damage is estimated to be in crores.
The UTDRF team along with local police after receiving information of one missing Nepali person, was engaged in road maintenance work where upon reaching found a rock break from top of mountain under which the said individual had come and succumbed. Inspector (SHO), Iftiqar Hussain while talking to media, said that after hectic efforts the dead body has been retrieved and was being moved to SDH Sankoo for medico- legal formalities.
Reports from Srinagar said that amid incessant rains, a cloudburst incident occurred at Amarnath cave this afternoon. However, there was no loss to life or property in the incident.
An official said that the incident took place at the holy shrine this afternoon. There was no loss to life or property as no pilgrim was present at the site.
The official said that two SDRF teams are at standby mode at the site while as another team alongside required machinery is being mobilized from Ganderbal to avert possible exigency at the site.
A residential house and a Masjid were partially damaged after a cloudburst hit upper reaches of Aloosa village in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district today, triggering flash floods.
The cloudburst triggered flash floods in Aloosa, resulting in partial damage to a residential house, mosque, while link roads were inundated.
An official said that there was no loss of life reported in the incident, while a foot bridge in the area was washed away. He said that that teams have been sent to the area to assess the damage.
Meanwhile, rain lashed Kashmir today triggering flash floods in some hilly areas while the Meterological department said that the rainfall will continue till Thursday while as overall weather will improve from July 31.
The Irrigation and Food Control department said that situation was under control and there was no flood threat as such.
The MeT department, however, asserted that the rainfall will lead to melting of glaciers and subsequent rise in water levels of all local streams across the J&K, which may lead to flash floods and mudslides especially in sloppy areas.
A fresh communique issued by the MeT this evening said that, light to moderate rain occurred across J&K with most rainfall recorded at Udhampur-Banihal- Katra axis, with (Katra receiving 37.8mm rainfall from Wednesday morning till evening). The MeT, however, forecasted intermittent light to moderate rain, heavy at times till Thursday and decrease thereafter gradually with overall improvement from July 31.
A top official from the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC), said that the water level is below the alert mark at all gauges of the valley.
“The water level is below the alert marks, at all the gauges of the valley,” he said, adding that the current water level at Sangam gauge is 5.9 Ft, while at Ram Munshi Bagh, the water level is at 7.34 ft.

LG speaks to HM, announces ex-gratia
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the Next of Kin of those who lost their lives in the tragic cloudburst in Kishtwar. The grievously injured would be given Rs 50,000 each and Rs 12,700 under SDRF shall also be disbursed.
Relief under SDRF for loss of houses, utensils, clothing, household goods, cattle, cattle shed, loss of agricultural land etc. shall also be provided by the Deputy Commissioner, Kishtwar.
“The J&K Government will do everything possible to support and protect the affected families. In such trying times, it is our duty to care for those who have been unfortunately affected by these natural calamities,” the Lt Governor said.
Immediately after the information was received at 6.30 AM about cloudburst at the village Hunzar under the jurisdiction of Police station Dachhan, Kishtwar, rescue teams from SDRF Kishtwar and Doda were rushed towards the incident site. Joint rescue operation at site is being conducted by local police, SDRF and Army. During the search operation, 7 dead bodies were recovered and 17 injured persons have been rescued.
The Lieutenant Governor also spoke to Home Minister Amit Shah and briefed him about the rescue and relief operation being carried out by the joint teams.
“Spoke to Home Minister Shri Amit Shah and discussed the incident of cloudburst at higher reaches of Shri Amarnathji Shrine. There was gusts of water near the Holy Cave area and the nallah adjoining the Holy Cave,” Sinha said in a tweet.
“The joint team of Shrine Board, Police, Army acting swiftly evacuated all the staff present close to the Nallah. No loss of human lives or property is reported. Situation is under control.”