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Dozens feared dead in Kashmir bus plunge

At least 70 people feared dead as vehicle is swept away, amid worst flooding in 22 years in India-administered Kashmir.

Last updated: 04 Sep 2014 12:07
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At least 100 villages across the Kashmir valley remain flooded by overflowing lakes and rivers [Reuters]

About 70 people are feared dead after a passenger bus was swept by a flooded stream in India-administered Kashmir, officials have said.

The accident occurred on Thursday in the southern Rajouri district of the Himalayan region which is suffering from its worst flooding in 22 years.

State government official Shantmanu said that rescuers were searching for the bus, but have not been able to locate it in the gushing waters.

Elsewhere in the region, at least 14 people have been swept away by floodwaters or buried by mud from mountain slopes since Wednesday, police officer Imtiyaz Hussain told the AP news agency on Thursday.

They included a paramilitary officer whose bunker collapsed on him.

Hussain said the soldiers and rescue workers used boats to move thousands of people to higher ground.

At least 100 villages across the Kashmir valley were flooded by overflowing lakes and rivers, including the Jhelum river, which was up to 1.5 metres above its danger level.

Authorities have closed the only highway connecting the region with Indian plains after a landslide, triggered by heavy rains, smashed the hilly road in southern Udhampur district.

Advisory issued

On Thursday, authorities issued an advisory asking people living on the banks of rivers and other water bodies, to move to safer places until the rain stops and water levels come down.

The region's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the water had reached beyond the danger mark and "we will come to know the extent of damage when water recedes".

"Bridges have washed away and houses have been damaged at many places," he said in the summer capital Srinagar.

Officials have also arranged 100 boats and 500,000 sand bags for emergency operations.

Landslides are common in the Himalayan region during the monsoon season, which runs from June to  September.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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