Cloudbursts Trigger New Flood Fears

SRINAGAR: The bitter memory of floods that devastated Kashmir Valley last September returned to haunt the people on Thursday evening when three cloud burst coupled with widespread heavy rains led to the killing of a 14-year-old girl and injury to as many as six people.

According to an official of the state met department, three cloudbursts — on the Kargil-Srinagar highway, at Kullan on Sonamarg-Srinagar road in Central Kashmir and at two places in South Kashmir, Hapatnar and Sheshnag  leading to widespread destruction.

The official said that two houses collapsed and also five vehicles were washed away in the cloudburst. A bus with no one on board was also washed away in the rains.

"A cloudburst struck around 7.30 pm at Kullan and Gagangir villages in Sonamarg area, resulting in massive downpour in which two houses had reportedly collapsed,” a police official told Kashmir Observer.

The police official said that the body of a girl whose name was Iqra Nazir was recovered and rescue operations were on in the area.

Owing to the heavy downpour, there were landslides in Sonamarg area but the civilians were shifted by the rescue teams assisted by army to safety.

The cloud-burst at Gagangir, 76 kms from here on Srinagar-Sonmarg highway at 6.30 p.m has led to the closure of the highway leading to Ladakh division.

Two more residents of Kullan village were missing and two labourers from Gangangir could not be traced as the army mounted operation to clear the national highway.

Four Spanish tourists and two civil engineers were rescused by the Army from this area immediately after the natural calamity, they said.

Another cloudburst struck Hapatnar and Seer areas in Anantnag district late Thursday. Police have launched rescue operations after water crossed the banks of an irrigation canal Shahkul, which is one of the branches of Lidder river in Pahalgam.

Yet another cloudburst has hit the Sheeshnag, a base camp for Amarnath Yatra, situated on a trek enroute the cave shrine. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims from all across India are flocking to the mountain cave shrine dedicated to Amarnath in South Kashmir these days.

Police said a bridge caved in at Sheshnag but there was no report of any casualty.

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has pressed its men and machines in operation along with Army engineers and Rashtriya Rifles jawans who had been posted on guarding the smooth conduct of Amarnath pilgrimage, officials said.

The Army opened its transit camp at Sonamarg for pilgrims who had been evacauated from these areas besides pressing into operation 11 mobile teams to provide food and medical supply to the needy. 

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