J-K flood fury : Rain hampers rescue operations as health concerns mount

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NewZNew (Ramban) : Efforts have been initiated on a war-footing to rush medical staff and essential drugs to the flood-affected areas in the Valley where the threat of an epidemic outbreak looms large. Bad weather hampered relief operations for nearly five hours on Sunday.

Rescue agencies, including the Army and the NDRF, have so far evacuated over two lakh people from affected areas. Over one lakh people were still awaiting help after massive floods unleashed a trail of death and destruction in the state.

Fresh landslides also hit the repair work on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which remains closed. The weather department has predicted more rain in the next 24 hours in the state.

“Focus is on pushing relief operations to far-off places,” said Lt General Saha. “We are trying hard to restore the road connectivity to Kashmir via NH44 and NH 244,” he said.

An official said badind1 weather would create problems as many people were without shelter. At some places, people were putting up in tents that were not waterproof, he said.

The Army was helping the civil administration in plugging breaches on the banks of the Jhelum. The river has nine breaches on the southern bank and five on its northern bank in Srinagar alone.

Though the floodwaters have receded, filth that has accumulated across the Valley. Lack of clean drinking water poses a serious challenge to health authorities. Doctors, paramedics and medicines were being rushed to various areas. The authorities were also carrying out mass immunisation against measles. The Centre has also been asked to dispatch more assistance.

Thirteen tonnes of water-purifying tablets and six water filtration plants with a capacity to filter 1.2 lakh bottles per day have already reached Srinagar, an official said. “Our focus is on provision of medicines and water-purifying medicines such as chlorine. We have asked municipalities to activate the sanitation system. Provision of food and prevention of diseases is our priority,” said Saleem-ur Rehman, Director, Health Services.

The devastating floods have caused an immediate loss of Rs 5,400-5,700 crore to the state’s economy, with heavy damage to trade, hotels, restaurants, horticulture and handicraft, according to initial estimates of industry body Assocham.

[blockquote author=”Lt General Subrata Saha, GOC 15 Corps” pull=”pullleft”]“Air operations had to be suspended for nearly five hours in the morning due to rain. Heavy rain lashed Kupwara on Saturday night. The water level of the Jhelum has gone up in Baramulla where it is flowing five feet above the danger mark,” [/blockquote]