August 6, 2010 8:52:30 am
With at least 115 people confirmed dead and about 412 injured in flash floods near Leh on Thursday night,news has also come in that 25 Army jawans in the area are missing after their posts and houses were washed away,Army sources said.
The J-K Government has provided a helpline number 00870763613623 for the family and friends of the tourists trapped in the area.
A series of cloudbursts in this Himalayan pocket prompted the floods that have caused heavy damage to life,infrastructure and property in the area. The cloudbursts hit Choglumsar area,13 kilometres from Leh and 424 kilometres from Srinagar.
The injured have been shifted to the local Army base hospital.
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“We have recovered 103 bodies so far and at least 370 are injured. The number of missing cannot be ascertained as yet,” State Police Chief Kuldeep Khoda said. He said the toll may go up.
Major roads to Leh have been cut off and the Kargil-Leh highway has been partially damaged. The civil airport was down for a major part of the day as a thick carpet of slush had settled over it. It was up and running from late afternoon to facilitate relief operations.
The IAF also conducted repeated aerial sorties throughout the day to assess damage while helicopters were on standby in Kargil,Thoise and Chandigarh.
There was heavy Army presence in the area as special teams were pushed into action to conduct and help with relief operations with the limited resources available as the area remains cut off from the rest of India.
Meanwhile,a Defence Ministry spokesperson said: 25 Army jawans are reported missing. The Defence Institute of High Altitude Research of DRDO has also been damaged. Civilian areas like the bus stand,BSNL towers,hospitals,the runway of the Leh airport and the ATC towers have been affected.
The Army hospital treated close to 400 injured people and was the only centre of medical attention as the local hospital has been washed away. The ministry said: Nearly 400 critically injured people have already been evacuated from the makeshift hospitals by the Army. All civilian doctors in the Leh District Hospital have been operating from the Army hospital,Leh as the Civil Hospital is filled with mud.
Initial reports indicate extensive damage due because of the sudden floods. Approaches by road to Leh from Srinagar through Zozilla and through the Rohtang Pass have been choked by mud. Bridges have also been washed away on these stretches.
Several columns of Army personnel from the 14 Corps helped in relief and rescue operations.
Defence Minister A K Antony,who is personally monitoring the operation,took a series of meetings of senior officials of the ministry,the Services and the DRDO this morning. A medical team along with essential supplies has been kept on standby to be flown to Leh once the runway is operational.
Communication with the area is also badly hit because of the cloudbursts which was accompanied by heavy rains.
Other areas along the Sindhu river are yet to be accessed and it is feared the human loss would be very heavy.
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