59 dead, over 300 injured in Leh flash floods

At least 59 people have been killed and over 300 injured in flash floods triggered by a massive cloudburst that hit Leh town in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region, washing away several government buildings and homes, police said Friday.

A huge cloudburst struck the town around midnight Thursday, triggering flash floods and mud slides, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir zone) Farooq Ahmed told IANS.

“So far, 59 bodies have been recovered. A massive relief and recue operation was started by the police during the night.

“We have now been joined by the army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)”, Ahmad told IANS here.

Tented accommodation and free rations were being arranged for the victims.

“Four policemen are also missing,” he said.

Police said more than 300 injured have been admitted to hospitals in Leh.

An army spokesperson said 6,000 of its personnel were engaged in the relief and rescue operation and helicopters had been pressed into service since foot movement was extremely difficult due to the mudslides and flash floods.

Reports reaching here said the flash floods have washed away concrete structures, including government offices, paramilitary camps and residential homes in the town.

The headquarters of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam limited (BSNL), a government polytechnic, the ITBP camp, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp, some government offices and residential homes have been extensively damaged.

“The runway of Leh airport has been inundated by flood waters and road connectivity disrupted,” a police official said here.

Due to the damage to the BSNL headquarters, communications have been completely disrupted in Leh town, 434 km from capital Srinagar.

The cloudburst occurred at Choglamsar village, which is situated above Leh. Flash floods and mudslides followed the cloudbursts unleashing the tragedy on the town, sources here said.

Leh, situated at 3,524 mt above sea level, is spread over 45,110 sq km, and comprises the main town and 12 adjacent villages.

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