Cloudburst: 7 Dead, 17 Injured Recovered, 15 Still Missing

SRINAGAR: With seven bodies retrieved and efforts underway to locate the missing residents in Hunzar, the cloudburst pushed Kishtwar into instant mourning. People aware of the area said it is very difficult to locate bodies as the cloudburst has added an unimaginable quantum of water to the local Hunzar rivulet.

Rope Bridge: In the twentieth century, rope bridges were abundant in Kashmir and elsewhere. This rope bridge over the Wadwan river is the main bridge connecting the scores of villages inhabiting the two sides. Image: Mahmood Ahmad

So far 17 persons were recovered in injured condition. Still, more than 20 people are being said to be missing.  These injured were washed to the shores by the water currents. Of the persons rescued, five are stated to be in a critical condition.

“This village is home to 500 people and the information I have is that seven homes have completed been erased as almost ten others have suffered serious damage,” Sajad Ahmad Kichloo, who is on way to Dacchan, told Kashmir Life on phone. “The topography of the area is such that it is very difficult to locate the missing but I am told the entire belt and the officials are working.”

The village inhabits the two banks of a local stream. Though loss is on both sides but in pone area it is massive. It was immediately known where the cloudburst has taken place.

Police sources gave identified the dead as Saja Begum (wife of Ghulam Mohammad), Ghulam Nabi (son of Ghulam Rasool), Abdul Majid (son of Nazir Ahmad), Touseef Iqbal (son of Mohammad Iqbal) and two nomads, Rakila Begum (wife of Zakir Ahmad) and Zaytoona Begum (wife of Lal Din).

Kichloo said the area is vulnerable to these tragedies as there is lot of human intervention, especially by the energy sector. The village that has suffered damage is on the banks of a stream that will eventually be part of the upcoming Pakal Dul dam. “Earlier, we had a similar tragedy in Baggar Assar that is on the banks of the Baghlihar dam,” Kichloo said. “The government is investing in energy at a huge cost to natives.”

The government, Kichloo said, must go for a serious survey of the vulnerable belts in all the three areas of this valley – Wadwan, Madwa and Dachan. In this belt, at least localities located on the banks of Hunzar and Kiber streams must be taken up for re-assessment on priority. Both these streams are tributaries of Chenab, the powerhouse of Jammu and Kashmir.

In Madwa, the Gamrad and Koirad rivulets get ferocious every time it rains for a few days. The same is the case in Wadwan where the rivulet emanating from Panikhar glaciers becomes deadly and impacts the localities living on its banks. The same is the case with Gumri and Koziz streams.

A trekker who has visited the place said the village is called Hunzal and is located on the banks of Hudmata rivulet. It is an inaccessible, treacherous terrain that has no roads, he said. The same flash flood has taken away a helipad downstream that was built for managing the upcoming Pakal Dul dam, he added.

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