Leh flash floods claim 113 lives

Toll may go up; foreigners stranded

Leh flash floods claim 113 lives

Devastation: A collapsed building after flash floods triggered by torrential rain struck Leh in Ladakh region on Friday. PTI Many foreign tourists are stranded on roads and army teams have rushed to rescue them. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured,” a press release from the PMO said. In his condolence message, the Prime Minister said he was “deeply shocked to learn of the loss of lives and devastation in the flash floods caused by the cloudburst in the Choglumsar area near Leh in Ladakh.”

He offered his condolences to the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery to the injured. Authorities said the toll may go up as a large number of people were still missing and believed to be buried under the damaged structures.

So far, 113 bodies have been recovered. The dead included three Army men. Twenty-five  security personnel are among the missing. The affected areas stretch from the village of Pang on the Rohtang-Leh highway up to Nimmu on the Leh-Srinagar highway, stretching more than 150 km. Many houses and roads were washed away. The flash floods, landslides and mudslides snapped road, aerial and communication links. The Manali-Leh road was cut-off due to land slides, while the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar road has been blocked due to the washing away of two important bridges.

BSNL headquarters was hit by the mudslides which affected communication. The disaster also hit two camps of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and CRPF. The Army rescued 45 CRPF personnel.  Over a dozen vehicles of the force and two bus stations were washed away. 

A defence spokesman said: “More than 15 Army columns have been deployed for rescue purposes. Detachments of the formation located at various places on the highway, too, were activated to provide relief and shelter to stranded civilians and foreign tourists.”
A portion of the airport  was damaged. It was repaired and the airport was ready for operations by late afternoon.

B’lore techies have providential escape
Three software engineers working in Bangalore had a providential escape during the flash floods triggered by massive cloudbursts in Leh region, reports DHNS from Raichur.  The three youths from Raichur were on a tour to Kulu-Manali.

Raghavendra, one of the lucky people to have survived the disaster, informed his brother Veereshbabu on phone on Friday evening that he and his friends Devendragowda and Pranav were safe in a guest house.

He also informed his brother that they would be rescued by an Army helicopter on Saturday morning. However, efforts of Raghavendra’s family members to reach him in the night were futile.   

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