More flood warnings in India and Pakistan

Two nations' armies move more than 40,000 people to safer areas, with rescue efforts in India focused on South Kashmir.

    The death toll from floods in Pakistan and India have reached 400 as authorities in both countries warn of more flooding in the days ahead.

    The flash floods, which began on September 3, have put more than half a million people in peril and rendered thousands homeless in the two neighbouring countries of South Asia.

    So far, 206 people have died in Pakistan, with most killed in Punjab province. The toll stands at 200 in India-administered Kashmir, while nearly 700 people have been injured, according to officials.

    Pakistani and Indian troops have evacuated more than 40,000 people to safer places, according to the statements from Indian and Pakistani armies.

    Pakistani and Indian troops have been using boats and helicopters to drop food supplies for stranded families and evacuate victims.

    In India-administered Kashmir, rescue efforts were focused on flooded south Kashmir and the main city of Srinagar, with about 400,000 people still stranded, the PTI news agency quoted local officials as saying.

    Meteorologists in the subcontinent say this is the divided Kashmir region's worst flooding in half a century.

    Whole villages submerged

    The Indian army was airlifting boats to the worst-hit areas of the Himalayan region, where whole villages have been submerged and hundreds of thousands are stranded.

    "The situation in Kashmir Valley is still very grim, it is quite critical," said Rajesh Kumar, police Inspector General of the Jammu region.

    "I don't know how many exactly, but there are many stuck in neck-deep water and need help as soon as possible," he told AFP news agency.

    The Kashmir region in the northern Himalayas is split between India and Pakistan and claimed by both.

    Two of the three wars the countries have fought since their independence from Britain in 1947 have been over control of Kashmir.

    According to Ahmad Kamal, spokesman for Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority, the floods were now moving towards Pakistan's south.

    Authorities were bracing for worsening conditions as water levels in the Chenab and Indus rivers were rising, Kamal said.

    Evacuations were already under way in several southern districts which could soon be inundated, he said.

    Equipment airlifted

    For its part, the Indian army late on Monday airlifted communication equipment to restore telephone and mobile phone links that were snapped after large areas of Kashmir were submerged under flood water.

    Army engineers were working on Tuesday to restore communication links, the Indian army said in a statement.

    The relief packages army troops were dropping in the affected areas include blankets, food supplies, medicine and drinking water to thousands of people who had been moved to safer places.

    Although the rains have stopped, the floodwaters are likely to submerge hundreds of more villages.

    The floods have triggered landslides in both sections of Kashmir, and caused much devastation in northern and eastern Pakistan.

    The rains have washed away houses, bridges, communication equipment and crops.

    Environmental experts in India said extensive deforestation of Kashmir's mountains has aggravated the damage due to the floods.

    With the Himalayan hills in India-administered Kashmir stripped off their green cover, fast flowing streams were causing soil erosion and flash floods, Krishnaswamy Srinivas of the Vasudha Foundation, a New Delhi-based environmental advocacy group, told the Associated Press news agency.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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