Dozens missing and seven dead after cloudburst triggers flash flood in India’s Jammu and Kashmir

·3 min read
A cloudburst in Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday led to floods that destroyed bridges and homes, claiming seven lives  (Screengrab/ Twitter)
A cloudburst in Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday led to floods that destroyed bridges and homes, claiming seven lives (Screengrab/ Twitter)

Seven people have died and at least 30 are missing after a cloudburst triggered flash floods in India’s northernmost Jammu and Kashmir state.

The cloudburst occurred near the remote Honjar village in the state’s Kishtwar district on Wednesday at 4am local time, according to an official.

Officials said they rescued 17 people, of whom five are critically injured.

The floods have led to the destruction of property and infrastructure as well as loss of life. At least eight homes have been destroyed and several bridges in the area were washed away. There is thought to be a risk of further flooding as the water level of a nearby river has increased because of the floods.

Prime minister Narendra Modi said he was aware of the cloudburst in Jammu and Kashmir and that assistance was being made available to those in affected areas, though he did not provide details.

“Central government is closely monitoring the situation in the wake of the cloudbursts in Kishtwar and Kargil. All possible assistance is being made available in the affected areas. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” Mr Modi said in a tweet.

Rescue work is being conducted in Kishtwar with the help of Indian Air Force helicopters and personnel from the Indian army, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

“The area is in the upper reaches of Kishtwar, not accessible by road. Jammu SDRF is on standby. The weather is inclement. One team of SDRF from Srinagar is ready to be airlifted,” VK Singh, an SDRF official, was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

In yet another cloudburst incident, around seven people went missing, while eight died in the northern Himachal Pradesh state, reported news agency Press Trust of India. Four people died in the state’s Kullu district, while three died in Lahaul-Spiti and one died in Chamba.

This comes as the state is still reeling after the devastation caused by a major landslide in Himachal Pradesh’s Sangla Valley, where a bridge collapsed after being hit by giant, rolling boulders. Nine people died from the incident, while a dozen more were injured.

In the southwestern Maharashtra state, more than 200 people have died in the past five days, as three landslides flattened the homes in the villages of Raigad and Satara district.

The two cloudburst incidents in India’s northern states and the landslides in Maharashtra have occurred as a result of the seasonal monsoon, although experts say there is increasing evidence of the climate crisis as having impacted the season, making extreme weather events more likely.

A Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research report published in April said the situation will only worsen, leading to dire consequences for nearly a fifth of the world’s population.

Roxy Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said in a tweet that the flood situation in India is “unprecedented, but not unexpected”.

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