Leh death toll rises to 165; 81 foreigners rescued

Leh death toll rises to 165; 81 foreigners rescued

Aamir Ali, officer on special duty in divisional commissioners office, said 150 bodies have been identified. The 15 unidentified bodies have been buried/cremated.

Among  the identified, 14  each were from Nepal and Chattisgarh, 10 from Bihar, three Tibetan refugees, two from Punjab, one each from Rajasthan and Banasai, while the rest belong to Jammu and Kashmir.

Ali added that the identified bodies from J&K have been handed over to respective families for last rites. Those from the outside state were airlifted and sent to the affected families.

Reports said a number of people were still missing, as relief and rescue operation continued.  A series of cloudbursts triggered off flash floods, land slides and mud slides causing massive death and destruction in Leh and its adjoining villages on Thursday night.

Leh continues to be cut off from the rest of the country.  Repairing of the damaged  Leh-Srinagar road and Leh-Manali road has started. The Leh-Manali road will be reopened in three days.

According to reports, 81 foreigners and six tour guides were rescued on Monday by the Air Force from the 11,000-foot high Zanskar valley after they were stranded there for over three days.

Sixty-two sorties were carried out by Chetak helicopters of the air force in five and a half hours to bring back foreign campers from the narrow valley.
Among the rescued foreigners 17 were British and French, nine Dutch, eight Czechs, seven Germans and four Israelis.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah visited the affected areas on Monday  for the second time.  He said:  “We are deeply painful for the loss of human lives and anxious for missing persons. But, we have to devote attention to restoration of all essential services and help to the affected people for their rehabilitation."

A defence spokesman said 41 columns of the Army were inducted on Monday to the ongoing relief and rescue efforts in Leh and the adjoining areas. In addition, Army troops are assisting Border Roads Organisation in creating diversions at several damaged bridge sites on the Leh-Srinagar national highway. Two bridges have also been restored at Phyang and Choglamsar.

Communication infrastructure of the district administration, that was hit by the disaster, continue to be maintained by equipment provided by the army. Meanwhile, seven tonnes of additional cables for the Army have also reached Leh that will further enhance the communication facilities further.

The Army is also making provisions to fulfil the requirements of large tents for establishment of field hospital, tents for displaced persons, firewood for cremation of bodies and provisioning of generator sets as projected by the district administration.

Meanwhile, the Army has also provided 5,000 blankets to the victims of the disaster. Ninety-one civilians have been admitted to Army Hospital, while 810 were given trauma care and 423 casualties treated so far, a defence spokesman said.

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