SRINAGAR: Two tragedies, 21 missing and a never-ending grief.
From treacherous mountains of Kishtwar to colossal dam in Kathua, rescue teams are searching hard to find the bodies of 21 missing people including two pilots after two tragedies struck Jammu region within a week.
Seven people were killed and 19 others went missing when a massive cloudburst triggered flash floods at Honzar village in Kishtwar district on July 27.
Eighteen days on, search and rescue teams fear that the missing people might have been washed away by strong currents when cloud burst triggered flash floods.
On August 3, an army chopper with two pilots on board crashed into the Ranjit Sagar dam. Eleven days on, rescuers have not been able to find the bodies or any survivors.
“Search operations for Indian Army Pilots and helicopter which had crashed into the Ranjit Sagar Dam has intensified with Submarine Rescue Unit of Indian Navy being flown in to explore digitally located wreckage at depth of approximately 80 – 100 meters,” said Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand, defence spokesman at Jammu.
Indian Air Force has lifted the heavy equipment from Vishakhapatnam to Pathankot for speeding up the underwater search. “Indian Army and all other agencies including Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, NDRF, Ranjit Sagar Dam Authority and District Authorities as well as the locals are sparing no efforts for bringing the operations to a final conclusion,” said Lt Col Anand.
Three hundred kilometers away in Honzur, disaster management teams are suspecting that 19 missing people might have been washed away. On the fateful day, water flow was so much that gates of some dams were opened soon after the cloud burst triggered flash floods. This has led to a belief that maybe the bodies might have been washed away.
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.
Even as the searches continue, the families of 21 missing people are suffering in silence. Family of Capt Jayant Joshi, who was the co-pilot of the ill-fated chopper is camping in the area in anticipation of some news about their loved one.
“My brother Capt Jayant Joshi’s hepter crashed in Ranjit Sagar Dam on Tuesday 2nd August. Almost one week later he has not been recovered. I wish I could explain the agony of my parents. Operations to extract the wreckage are ongoing at a snail’s pace with no end in sight,” Neel Joshi, brother of co-pilot, had tweeted on August 9.
Villagers of Honzar have sent SOS to the government as the fate of 19 missing continue to remain unknown. “We want to have the last glimpse of dear ones,” a grieving family member told local volunteers.