Youth washed away; over 180 houses, 100 shops, 60 vehicles damaged in Surankote flood

A car stuck in a narrow lane in Surankote town on Monday. -Excelsior/Romesh Bali
A car stuck in a narrow lane in Surankote town on Monday. -Excelsior/Romesh Bali

*Traders protest, Admn launches anti-encroachment drive

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Aug 1: A youth was washed away in Suran river while at least 180 houses, nearly 100 shops and at least 60 vehicles including cars and bikes, besides public property worth crores were damaged in massive flash flood in Surankote town last night.
The traders under the banner of Beopar Mandal Surankote staged protest against the encroachments on local Nallahs and damage caused to their shops and goods due to blockade of drains and flash flood in the main market and lanes. They raised slogans against Municipal Committee Surankote and District and Sub Divisional Administration Poonch for not taking cognizance of the matter in time.

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The Administration led by Additional Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, Basharat Hussain and SDM Surankote, Naheem-ul-Nisa Bhatti launched anti-encroachment drive using JCBs and broke slabs of many covered Nallahs and drains in Main market Surankote. They said that this drive would continue for some more days. Several illegally raised houses along the Nallahs have been identified and they will be demolished.
The locals of the area claimed that they have seen such a devastation for the first time in Surankote town. They said flood fury was such devastating and sudden that people could not find time to save their goods and other belongings. The goods of the shopkeepers, including carpets, mattresses, pillows and other displayed items outside the shops in the main market were found flowing down in the flood.
The situation in low lying Hari Mohalla and Iqbal Nagar was much horrible where water level reached 7 to 8 ft in many houses and lanes and the people saved their lives by moving to their roof tops. Many cars, autorikshaws and bikes were seen washing away and trapped in the lanes and by-lanes. There was total chaos and confusion and the power supply to the entire town was also snapped.
They said many walls and structures were broken, lanes and roads turned into virtual Khuds and there was slush/mud in many lanes and roads. Many tin shed were also washed away and crops damaged. The people were unable to walk on the roads and lanes. The engines and seats of many cars were badly damaged. Many vehicle could not be started in the morning while several bikes were washed away towards river. The household items including TVs, refrigerators, beds, food grains, eatables, books, blankets, quilts etc of the people were badly damaged in the flood.
According to SDM and Naib Tehsildar Surankote, at least 100 shops, nearly 170-180 houses and about 50-60 vehicles including bikes have been damaged. They said the assessment work was still in progress and the Revenue teams were busy in the task. They said due to old encroachment during militancy in the period between 2000 to 2003 along the Nallahs water passage was blocked and two Nallahs were over flooded and caused flash flood in the town. They said there was urgent need to remove encroachments and the process has started. Even the covered drains in the market are also being dug so that blockades could be removed.
Meanwhile, due to flash flood in Suran river after heavy rain late last evening a 20-year old youth was washed away near Kalai. He along with few other people was working with JCB for loading a dumper. While others escaped, this boy was trapped in the flash flood and washed away.
Soon after the incident, search operation was launched by police, SDRF and Armymen along the river, which continued even today but he could not be traced.
Officials identified him as Mohd Zafar, son of Mushtaq Ahmed, resident of Chandak in Tehsil Haveli, Poonch.
Father of the washed away youth said that he went to remove JCB Machine parked near Kalai bridge in the river when suddenly volume of water increased in river and it washed him away.
Station House Officer Poonch, Ranjit Rao said that two youth drowned on Sunday evening, but one among them namely Tahir Masood, son of Masood Ahmed, was rescued by Police, SDRF, Army and locals with some injuries. Teams are continuously on job to trace the washed away youth, he added.
Another report said due to heavy rains on Sunday and Monday night, a house was damaged due to rain in Kalaban village of Mendhar sub-division of Poonch district.
The Kuccha house of Mohammad Irfan, son of Mohammad Zaman, resident of Ward No 2 village Kalaban was damaged during the heavy rain late night..
Mohammad Irfan said that it was raining heavily and his my house was on the verge of collapse at any time. He had shifted his family to someone else’s house. Suddenly, the house collapsed and his many household items were buried under the debris.
Reports from Srinagar said rains continued to lash Kashmir, causing water-logging in many areas, even as the Weatherman today forecast more spells and thundershowers till tomorrow.
The rains also brought down minimum temperature to below normal at most places with world famous Gulmarg resort recording a low of 8.6°C against 11.0°C on previous night and it was 3.9°C below normal for the place.
The spells of rain and thunderstorms caused waterlogging at several places, more so in low-lying areas of Srinagar and elsewhere. Several roads have turned into virtual pools, causing inconvenience to the commuters.
There was also a slight rise in the water level in Jhelum due to intermittent scattered showers across Kashmir.
A Meteorological department official here said Pahalgam received 31.4mm, Qazigund 12.8mm, Kupwara13.4mm, Kokernag 13.0mm, Srinagar 9.2mm and Gulmarg 8.8mm rain.
Srinagar, recorded a low of 17°C against 18.8°C on the previous night. The temperature was 1.9°C below normal during this time of the year.
Qazigund recorded a low of 16.2°C against 16.7°C on the previous night. The temperature was 1.2°C below normal there.
In Pahalgam, the mercury settled at 13.2°C against 14.4°C on the previous night and it was 0.4°C below normal for the south Kashmir resort.
Kokernag recorded a low of 15.2°C against 16.8°C last night and it was 1.5°C below normal for the place.
Kupwara town saw a low of 15.9°C against 17.9°C on previous night and it was 1.5°C below normal for the place during this time of the season.
“There is possibility of scattered to fairly widespread light to moderate rain/thundershower over Jammu & Kashmir Divisions in next 24 hours,” the Meteorological department said, adding, “There is possibility of isolated to scattered light rain and thunder showers for subsequent two days.”