Leh toll 145, cloudburst in Kargil town (Lead)

August 9th, 2010 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 9 (IANS) The toll in the devastating flash floods caused by Friday’s cloudburst in Leh town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region went up to 145 while around 200 of the missing returned safely Monday. Another cloudburst hit Kargil town, causing damage but no casualties.
After a night’s halt, thousands of rescue workers, including over 6,000 army soldiers and troopers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), fanned out across Leh town Monday.

“Out of 145 bodies recovered so far, 16 are yet to be identified,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Farooq Ahmad told IANS.

“No foreigner is among the 129 dead identified. While one Spanish national is still missing, another is being treated for injuries in a Leh hospital,” he said.

Around 200 of the missing returned safely, officials said, adding another 200 were still missing.

Around 1,200 foreign tourists, who had been stranded in Leh because of the cloudburst, have been evacuated by special flights of Air India and other airlines, Ahmad added.

“Helicopters have been pressed into service today (Monday) to evacuate some foreign tourists who are stranded in Zanskar Valley of Ladakh region,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, a cloudburst hit Kargil town in the region, causing extensive damage to homes, offices and hotels, but no loss of life was reported.

Over 400 injured people are being treated in makeshift hospitals established in Leh with the help of the army and the local administration.

Four Air India flights reached the town Sunday to evacuate stranded passengers, most of them foreigners, while the Indian Air Force sent more planes with relief supplies.

The police have set up tented accommodation for 2,000 victims in Choglamsar village and Leh town where free meals are being served.

Leh is 434 km from Srinagar and 474 km from Manali in Himachal Pradesh, to which it is connected by an alternative highway.

The cloudburst occurred at Choglamsar village, which is situated above Leh town, causing flash floods and mudslides that washed away government offices, paramilitary camps and residential homes.

Among the worst hit are the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), many local hotels and shops.

The headquarters of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), a government polytechnic, an ITBP camp, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp, some government offices and the main transmitter of All India Radio Leh have been extensively damaged.

Situated at 3,524 m above sea level, Leh is spread over 45,110 sq km comprising the main town and 12 adjacent villages.

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