A cloudburst swept away over half-a-dozen houses in a remote village in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir early Wednesday, leaving five people dead and 12 injured, officials said.
Over 25 people are still reported missing in the cloudburst which struck Honzar village in Dacchan tehsil around 4:30 am, officials said, adding a joint rescue operation by police, army and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) is underway.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and DGP Dilbagh Singh and took stock of the situation arising due to the cloudburst.
District Development Commissioner, Kishtwar, Ashok Kumar Sharma, told PTI, “Bodies of five persons were recovered from the cloudburst-hit village by the rescuers, while 12 others were evacuated to hospital in an injured condition so far.”
He said a total of six houses were swept away by the flash floods triggered by the cloudburst and a search and rescue operation was on when last reports were received.
“Many more people are still missing and we are collecting their exact number,” Sharma said.
Director General of Police-cum-Commandant General Home Guard, Civil Defence and SDRF, V K Singh, said two women are among the five persons killed in the cloudburst, while over 25 others are still missing.
“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 weather to improve to get airlifted from Jammu and Srinagar to the scene and join the rescue mission,” Singh said, adding a NDRF team from Ludhiana in Punjab is also on the way to Kishtwar.
He said six houses and a ration store were damaged by the cloudburst.
“Inclement weather is hampering the rescue operation as our teams are waiting at the airports. The village is a three hour journey on foot from the last road connectivity,” he said.
The officials said floods have also been reported from Machail, Paddar and Bunjwah in the district.
The district development commissioner, Kishtwar, said two cloudbursts struck remote Lambard area overnight but there was no report of any loss of life.
“There is some damage to infrastructure but exact details are awaited,” Sharma said.
He said 60 families were evacuated to safety from the Paddar area in view of incessant rains which posed a threat to their homes.
Union minister Jitendra Singh and J-K Lt Governor Sinha said they are monitoring the situation arising out of the natural calamity.
The Union minister, in a tweet, said he spoke to district magistrate Kishtwar and air force authorities were contacted for lifting the injured as and when required.
“…Keeping close track of the situation. Every kind of further help will be provided as per requirement,” Singh, who is a member of parliament from Udhampur constituency which also covers Kishtwar, said.
In a tweet on the handle of Office of LG J-K, Sinha said “Saddened over loss of precious lives due to flash floods caused by cloudburst in Dacchan, Kishtwar. My thoughts are with bereaved families.
“Spoke to senior authorities and district administration. Army and SDRF team working on war footing to rescue people and trace the missing persons. I am continuously monitoring the situation,” the Lt Governor wrote.
Senior PDP leader and former legislator Fidroud Tak also expressed shock over the “unfortunate incident” and called for intensification of the rescue operation to save precious lives.
Most parts of Jammu region have been receiving heavy rains for the past few days. With the prediction of more rains till July-end, authorities in Kishtwar have already asked people living along water bodies and slide-prone areas to remain vigilant.
"The meteorological department has predicted heavy rains during the coming days and water levels in rivers and drains are expected to rise, which can pose a threat to the inhabitants residing near rivers, drains, water bodies and slide-prone areas," the district administration said in an advisory issued late on Tuesday night.
A MET spokesperson said widespread intermittent rain is most likely to continue across Jammu and Kashmir till July 30.“Heavy to very heavy rain is possible at some places and may lead to flash floods, mudslide, landslide and water logging (in low lying areas). People are advised to remain alert as water level has risen in all rivers (owing to incessant rains),” the spokesperson said, also asking people not to venture on hilly, landslide and mudslide prone areas.