103 dead, 370 injured in flash floods in Leh

      At least 103 people were killed and over 370 others injured in cloudburst related floods in the Choglumsar area near Leh in Ladakh. "We have recovered 103 bodies so far and at least 370 people are injured. The number of missing persons cannot be ascertained as yet," said Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda Khoda further said a massive rescue operation was underway involving the state police, paramilitary forces and the army. The BSNL network in Leh has been completely damaged. The Srinagar-Leh Highway has been cut off as a crucial bridge between Syong and Nemu was washed away. The Leh airport runway, however, is now operational. The Indian Air Force is conducting aerial sorties over the area to assess the damage, while helicopters are on standby in Kargil, Thoise and Chandigarh. The army has been deployed for relief operations and the injured have been shifted to the local army base hospital. Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh have deeply condoled the tragic loss of life and property caused due to flash floods. In his message, Vice President Ansari said: "I join all citizens in sending condolences to the members of the bereaved families and pray to the Almighty to grant them the strength to withstand this immense loss." Dr. Singh in his message said: "I am deeply shocked to learn of the loss of lives and devastation in the flash floods caused by cloudburst in the Choglumsar area near Leh in Ladakh. I send my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved families and wish those injured a speedy recovery." Dr Singh has also sanctioned Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. While expressing grief over the tragedy, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has directed the civil and police administration to undertake relief and rescue work on a war footing. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said food supplies and other relief materials including medicines would be transported to the affected and stranded people. "6000 Army personnel, the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police), all are fully acclimatised to the conditions of Leh so they are engaged in rescue operations. We have arranged for rushing supplies to Leh," said Chidambaram. "I have instructed the Secretary to get ready food supplies and medicines from the National Disaster Management Authority and rush it. But I think there is some problem about the airport there. As soon as the airport becomes functional we hope to be able to land supplies there," he added.

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