Toll in Leh flash floods now 85, likely to rise (Fourth Lead)

August 6th, 2010 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 6 (IANS) At least 85 people were killed and almost 350 injured in flash floods triggered by a massive cloudburst that hit Leh town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, washing away several government buildings and houses, police said Friday.
“So far, 85 dead bodies have been recovered in the Leh tragedy and the death toll is likely to rise. 340 people have been injured and they are undergoing treatment in Leh hospitals,” Inspector General of Police (Kashmir zone) Farooq Ahmad told IANS.

The dead include four constables of the state police who were killed during the rescue operation in Leh town, while a sub-inspector of police, who was part of the rescue team, is still missing, he added.

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

The relief and rescue operation is being carried out in Leh town by over 6,000 soldiers as well as troopers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

As foot movement is extremely difficult, army helicopters had been pressed into service.

Reports reaching here said unprecedented massive cloudbursts triggered flash floods and mudslides in Leh town around midnight, washing away concrete structures including government offices, paramilitary camps and residential homes in the town.

The headquarters of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam limited (BSNL), a government polytechnic, the ITBP camp, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp, some government offices, main transmitter of All India Radio in the town and residential homes have been extensively damaged by the flash floods.

“The runway of the Leh airport has been inundated by the flood waters and road connectivity disrupted there,” police said here.

Because of the damage to the BSNL headquarters, communications have been completely disrupted in Leh town and it is difficult to reach anybody through phone there.

Due to the damage to the BSNL headquarters, communications have been completely disrupted in Leh town, 434 km from Srinagar and and 474 km from Manali in Himachal Pradesh to which it is connected through an alternative highway.

The cloudburst occurred at Choglamsar village, which is situated above Leh. Flash floods and mudslides followed the cloudbursts, unleashing the tragedy on the town, sources said.

Hundreds of locals waded through four feet deep mud to rush to higher ground as mudslides and flash floods inundated low lying areas in the town.

Leh, situated at 3,524 mt above sea level, is spread over 45,110 sq km, and comprises the main town and 12 adjacent villages.

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