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Thousands cut off in Kashmir floods

19 September 2014


Worst flooding in a century: stranded men sit by a damaged road in Muzzaffargarh, Punjab, Pakistan

Worst flooding in a century: stranded men sit by a damaged road in Muzzaffargarh, Punjab, Pakistan

THE worst flooding in Kashmir for more than a century has left more than 100,000 people marooned, amid fears that cholera may strike. The death toll in the region is expected to exceed 500.

The floods began two weeks ago after heavy monsoon rains and landslides. Christian Aid estimates that more than 8.5 million people have been affected in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Two million have been forced to leave their homes.

The worst-affected areas are the two regions separated by the Control Line in Kashmir (a region disputed by India and Pakistan since the partition of 1947). On the Indian side, 100,000 people were still marooned on Monday. The city of Srinagar, home to a million people, was submerged after the river Jhelum broke its banks.

In Pakistan, 1.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Christian Aid reports that breaches have been deliberately made in the embankments of the Chenab river "to protect larger towns and cities, leading to flooding in villages further down river".

On Friday, Belinda Bennet, head of South Asia at Christian Aid, whose partners are working across the region to provide relief, said: "The situation will undoubtedly deteriorate as rains continue and more rivers flood. It is currently harvest-time in the region, but crops ready for reaping have simply been destroyed. The coming winter will create an even more desperate need for shelter, as temperatures can drop below zero in some areas.

"Many of the people affected have already borne the brunt of previous disasters, such as the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, South Asia floods of 2007, and the Pakistan floods of 2010."

Last week, the head of the climate-change team at the Centre for Science and Environment, Chandra Bhuhsan, said that the floods were "a grim reminder that climate change is now hitting India harder".


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