If we wait for the govt, we will only find bodies: Flood victims

No help from authorities, civilians take up rescue work.

Written by Adil Akhzer , Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: September 11, 2014 9:04 am
flood-victim People on the ground claim to have spotted many bodies floating in the flood water, raising fears that the death toll may be higher than expected.

With thousands still trapped inside the homes, residents in Srinagar claim that the government has failed to launch a rescue operation so far, forcing civilian rescue workers to travel across the submerged city to take people to safer places.

Though the water in river Jhelum has receded, it is increasing in Dal Lake and some other water bodies in Srinagar, inundating more neighbourhoods in the city.

With people unable to venture out of their homes, it is becoming increasingly hard to survive without food and water. On Wednesday, as two boys were trying to get drinking water for their trapped families in Rajbagh, they were washed away by water currents. While one of them managed to make it back safely, the other went missing.

There is no government presence on the ground, and even the Army and NDRF are missing, say residents. On Wednesday afternoon, a senior National Conference leader air-dropped a few packets of biscuits and bananas on Abdullah Bridge at Rajbagh. However, angry locals threw them into the river as a mark of protest.

“We do not need biscuits,” said Nazir Ahmad, whose family is trapped in the area. “We need to save lives. On television, they are talking about the Army and the NDRF, but where are they? Just give us some boats and we will do it ourselves.”

Civilians have been travelling across the city using wooden boats for the rescue operation. In the past three days, thousands of civilians and tourists have been rescued by such people from different parts of the city — especially the worst affected Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Lal Chowk, Maisuma and Khayam areas.

“We know that it is not safe without safety gear, but what else can we do?” said Aabid Firdous, a rescue worker. “If we wait for the government, we will only find the bodies, maybe not even that,” he added.

The civilian workers also shifted most of the patients from Lal Ded maternity hospital to other city hospitals. Wading through the water, rescue workers carried patients on stretchers and wheelchairs.

On Sunday, the hospital was abandoned by the administration and doctors, leaving hundreds of pregnant women — some of whom required immediate surgery — to fend for themselves without any food and water.

The government has so far failed to fill up two gaps in the Jhelum embankment, which were swept away by flood water. As a result, the city’s two main arteries — Residency Road and MA Road — are still inundated, as is the business hub Lal Chowk.

People on the ground claim to have spotted many bodies floating in the flood water, raising fears that the death toll may be higher than expected.

For many, long journey and a desperate search

Srinagar: At Abdullah bridge in Rajbagh, Muhmmad Suleman has been looking for his family for the past four days. Suleman, who has come here from Bandipora in north Kashmir, is one of thousands of people who have come to flood hit areas to look for their loved ones. “The last time I spoke to my family was on Sunday,” Suleman said. “My daughter was crying over the phone and asking for help.” Mubashir Mushtaq, who is also looking for his relatives, said. “I have no idea about my uncle’s family. My uncle is a a heart patient and I can only pray that he is safe.” Fayaz Ahmad, who came from Gurez in north Kashmir, is looking for his son and daughter. “They are trapped inside a housed in Tulsi Bagh. I don’t know what to do, where to go or whom to call for help.” Ali Asgar was among the lucky ones. “I came from Kargil with a group of professionals to save my son. He is trapped in Rajbagh.” Two hours later, the father and son were reunited.

Help pours in for ‘brothers and sisters’

Srinagar: In the main market of north Kashmir’s Bandipora town, a group of youth are asking people for money. “Our people in Srinagar need help, please donate whatever you can,” one of them says, using a loudspeaker. In the absence of help from the administration, such pleas are being made in every part of Kashmir. Many people from north and central Kashmir are bringing relief items by buses and trucks. “We came here to help our brothers and sisters,” Imtiyaz Ahmed, a farmer, said. “We brought 12,000 water bottles and other items.” Aqif Manzoor, who got food for the trapped people, said, “I know I am playing with my life but I can’t wait for the government to come and start the relief operations. We can’t leave these people to die.”  Adil Akhzer

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