SRINAGAR: Search and rescue teams fear that 19 missing people of Kishtwar’s Honzar village might have been washed away by strong currents when cloud burst triggered flash floods on July 27.
Seven people were killed and 19 others went missing when a massive cloudburst triggered flash floods in Honzar village on July 27. Seventeen days have passed and there is no trace of missing people.
“Nothing can be said. They might have been washed away. Maybe they are under the debris which is 10 to 12 feet deep. We do not know. Nothing can be said,” AK Sharma, deputy commissioner of Kishtwar told The Kashmir Monitor.
Disaster management teams are not ruling out the possibility that the bodies might have been washed away because there were strong currents. Water flow was so much that gates of some dams were also opened. This has led to a belief that maybe the bodies might have been washed away.
“Nothing can be said with certainty,” said Nisha Nathyal, Commandant, 2nd battalion of SDRF.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been called back as they were required to deal with the flood situation in other states. Now the operation is being conducted by police, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and local volunteers.
“NDRF was required in other states. SDRF is still there but no recoveries have been made. SDRF and police are conducting the operation jointly. They have been trying hard, but unfortunately, no one has been retrieved. Instead, carcasses of animals have been found,” said Sharma.
Seven houses and two kothas have been swept away by the flash floods. Most of the people had vacated the houses when the cloudburst triggered flash floods. The people who were hit were at the banks of the Nallah when the tragedy struck.
Inclement weather, poor connectivity, and lack of heavy machinery are hampering the search and rescue operation to locate 19 missing persons.
A few weeks ago, three Indian Air Force helicopters were pressed into service to airlift SDRF and NDRF teams to Kishtwar. Simultaneously critically injured people were evacuated from Sondar to Kishtwar.
“It is perhaps one of the longest search and rescue operations. Currently, 80 to 100 rescuers are stationed in the village. They are trying hard to clear the debris. They are doing it manually,” said Sharma.
Disaster experts said it is not just debris but huge boulders have fallen off. “To call it debris would be a misnomer. Debris is something that we could quantify. These are huge boulders. It is as if a mountain has caved down,” Nisha said.