Landslides buried at least 15 people in Kashmir on Monday as hundreds fled their homes after heavy rain triggered flooding around the mountainous region.
Police and witnesses said landslides had buried at least four houses in Chadoora, the worst hit area of the Himalayan region where hundreds were killed in devastating floods last September.
“The ground above the houses just collapsed early this morning and buried them,” villager Mohammad Sultan told AFP by telephone from Chadoora, around 15 km west of the main city of Srinagar.
Hundreds of Kashmiris in both India and Pakistan moved to higher ground Monday as rain-swollen rivers swamped parts of the disputed Himalayan region placed under an emergency flood alert just six months after some 600 people died in flooding that left the region in shambles.
Officials ordered residents along the banks of the Jhelum River to move to relief camps as the water crossed the danger threshold in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir. More than a dozen people were trapped inside two houses that partially sank into the ground after a landslide hit Budgam district, police said. Rescuers were digging through huge piles of mud in an effort to reach them.
The flooding after three days of heavy rain renewed fears among the tens of thousands who have struggled to rebuild after flooding in September destroyed thousands of homes and infrastructure worth $17 billion. For days in September, many residents were left stranded on rooftops or the upper floors of buildings as bloated livestock carcasses floated by. For weeks, heaps of garbage piled up in the waterlogged city.
“My house has been submerged,” Srinagar resident Zareena Bano said. “Last year, too, it was submerged, and today again. I feel helpless.”
After many faulted the government last year for failing to anticipate such flooding, and for taking too long to respond, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday dispatched a special team to assess the threat and to get relief efforts moving. The government of the Indian-controlled portion of the region had issued a flood warning Sunday night as river levels approached the danger mark.