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Thursday, September 23, 2021

7 killed in Kishtwar cloudburst; burst also near Amarnath case, no injuries

Fourteen people are still missing and rescue operations are on to trace them, it is learnt. Five of the 17 injured are in critical condition, according to officials.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu |
Updated: July 29, 2021 12:14:36 am
Army personnel during a rescue operation after flash floods due to a cloudburst at Hanzor in Kishtwar district. (PTI Photo)

At least seven people were killed and 17 injured after a cloudburst hit remote Hunzar village, in Dacchan area of the hilly Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir, early Wednesday.

Fourteen people are still missing and rescue operations are on to trace them, it is learnt. Five of the 17 injured are in critical condition, according to officials.

According to police, six houses, a ration depot and a bridge were damaged in flash floods triggered by the cloudburst in Hunzar around 4.30 am. More than a dozen houses and nearly two dozen cowsheds were completely damaged, it is learnt.

J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured grievously, besides Rs 12,700 under SDRF. Relief under SDRF for material losses will also be provided by the Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner, he said.

Cloudbursts have been reported from several places in J&K since Tuesday night.

Separate cloudbursts were reported from remote Lambard area — one at Paddar and another Patnazi (Bounjwa) in Kishtwar district — at 10.30 pm and 11.35 pm, respectively. No loss of life was reported from these areas. There were reports that two bridges in Saranga-Naga and Bounjwa areas were damaged, and the 14-MW power project at Dondi was partially damaged, disrupting power supply in some villages.

A cloudburst was also reported around Amarnath cave in south Kashmir Himalayas. No damage, or loss of life or injury was reported — the Amarnath pilgrimage stands cancelled in view of the Covid-19 situation.

Cloudbursts were reported from Khangral and Sangra villages in Kargil district, in the Union Territory of Ladakh, as well, damaging a hydel power project and a few houses. The Kargil-Zanskar road was reportedly closed as a result.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the Centre is closely monitoring the situation. “All possible assistance is being made available in the affected areas. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” he posted.

Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with L-G Sinha and DGP Dilbag Singh and took stock of the situation.

Teams of Army, SDRF and police personnel, besides local residents and members of ABABEEL, a registered charitable trust, were looking for those still missing following the cloudburst in Hunzar. Inclement weather conditions were, however, hampering rescue operations, as most teams were yet to reach the village, which is nearly a three-hour journey on foot from the nearest road link, it is learnt.

Director General of Police-cum-Commandant General Home Guard, Civil Defence and SDRF, V K Singh, told PTI, “One of our SDRF teams from Kishtwar reached the affected village and two more teams are on their way from Doda and Udhampur districts. Two more SDRF teams are waiting for the weather to improve to get airlifted from Jammu and Srinagar to the scene and join the rescue mission,’’ Singh said.

An NDRF team from Ludhiana, Punjab, is on way to Kishtwar, he added.

A Defence spokesperson said two Army columns were mobilised to assist the civil administration in rescue operations.

As the cloudbursts triggered flash floods in Dacchan, Machail, Paddar and Bounjwa areas, leading to rise in water levels of the Chenab, the police and the district administration sounded alert in several villages along the river and evacuated people to safer places, especially Paddar and Thathri areas.

More than a dozen villages in Akhnoor, in Jammu district, were put on alert as the Chenab was flowing at 32.5 feet — 0.5 ft above the danger level. All “ghats” and temples at Jia Potto near Akhnoor were submerged, it was reported.

With Jammu division receiving heavy showers over the last few days, the administration in various districts had issued an advisory and asked people not to go near waterbodies. The water level in rivers and nullahs was likely to further rise as the Meteorological Department has predicted heavy rain in the coming days as well.

What is a cloudburst

A cloudburst is short-term extreme precipitation that takes place over a small area; it is not, as is sometimes understood, breaking open of a cloud, resulting in release of huge amounts of water. Cloudbursts have a very specific definition: if rainfall of about 10 cm or above per hour is recorded over a place that is roughly 10 km x 10 km in area, it is classified as a cloudburst event.

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