From the third story of a guest house in Rajbagh, several tourists are crying for help. At a distance of some 10 meters people are making every effort to reach out to them. But without any boats and life saving equipment, they are helpless.
Those who could have helped are missing on the ground. In most of the city areas that are submerged under water, no body from the administration is seen. The only help comes from the civilians.
On Sunday night, the river Jehlum spilled over submerging Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gogji Bagh and Wazir Bagh neighbourhoods of city. The first story of the houses and hotels in Rajbagh that are packed with tourists are submerged.
“Please help us, take us out of here,” a group of tourists shouted from a guest house in Rajbagh. “This (guest house) is sinking, please take us out”.
But there is no body from the administration to listen to them. The people who have assembled there are trying their bit but without much success. “What can we do bare handed. Let the government give us a few boats, we will rescue the people. But they are no where seen,” said Abdul Rashid, a civilian. “We are here to give them hope. We are telling them the help will come soon”.
Officials say that close to 15000 tourists are in the city and they have no idea what to do. “Our tourism minister is himself trapped. We could not rescue him,” said an official. “What would we do with them”.
The irony is that for the past few days government has been publicizing the helpline numbers asking people to call them if they need a rescue. But no body is picking up these numbers.
The people in and around Rajbagh say that the government has no idea how many people are trapped in their houses in Rajbagh and surrounding areas. “When I heard the sound of gushing water, I rushed out of my house,” said Firdous Ahmad of Rajbagh. “And within five minutes, several feet of my house were under water. It didn’t give us time to take out even the important documents like qualification certificates”.
On Saturday night at around 9.30 p.m the water level in Jehlum started to rise. By 1 a.m at night, the water in the river had risen by almost three feet. There was no warning from the government, no monitoring of the river by the administration.
“The government should have warned us in advance that the water level will increase,” says Mushtaq Ahmad, a businessman at Lalchowk. “All the day they were assuring us that the weather is going to improve and water levels are going to come down. The weather has improved but the water level is only increasing”.
The overflowing river Jehlum has inundated the Badami Bagh cantonment, Indira Nagar, Shivpora and Sonawar neighborhoods also. The water has submerged the valley’s lone children hospital. The emergency of the hospital had been shifted to upper stories. The Tourist Reception Centre has also been flooded.
On Sunday night as the water spilled over the embankment pouring on to the city’s lifeline Residency Road, residents and shopkeepers were themselves monitoring the sutuation. By 3 a.m, the water spilled over to Residency Road submerging city centre Lalchowk. City’s another major market, Hari Singh High Street is also under water while the flood waters submerged the roads leading to Civil secretariat, fire and emergency services and the police control room.
The flood waters have also inundated Qamarwari, Shaheed Gunj, Zainakote and Kakasarai neighbourhoods.