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PM Modi offers Rs 1000-crore aid to flood-battered Jammu & Kashmir

SRINAGAR: The flood fury unleashed more death and destruction in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming the lives of nearly 150 people so far and leaving many marooned, even as relief efforts were intensified on Sunday, with the Prime Minister announcing Rs1000 crore aid for the battered state.

The swirling waters have damaged buildings and snapped road and communication links, cutting off many areas. The Army cantonment, Civil Secretariat and the High Court in Srinagar have also been inundated.

Stepping up the relief efforts, IAF has pressed 29 planes and helicopters into service, set up a disaster monitoring cell and alerted all its bases to a high state of readiness. 12,500 people have been rescued from various areas of Jammu by teams of Army and IAF till now with 184 columns (75-100 personnel each) deployed.

But many more people were trapped and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah assured them that help will reach soon. “This is an unprecedented situation and we are doing the best we can under the circumstances. Please do not panic, we will reach you, I promise,” he said.

As the state struggled to deal with the enormity of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the flood situation in Jammu region and termed it a “national level disaster.”

The Prime Minister shared the pain and anguish of the people as he was briefed in Jammu and in Srinagar by Omar and senior officials of the state government about the damage caused by the floods.

“An additional special project assistance of Rs 1,000 crore will be made available by the government to the state for flood relief and rehabilitation. More assistance would be provided, if required, after a proper survey of the situation has been made,” the PM said.

Omar said the water level in Jammu was decreasing slowly. "We will now focus more on relief and rehabilitation. The situation is slowly going back to normalcy in Jammu while in Kashmir the situation has become worse. Especially the situation is still bad in Srinagar. “Our priority is to save people,” he told reporters.

Boats, rescue teams, divers, flood lights and search lights are being sent from other states, officials said, adding there was also need for more tents.

A total of twelve AN-32, four IL-76, five C-130J and two C-17 transport aircraft of the IAF have been pressed into operation to ferry men and relief material. As the number of shelter-less people is rising, Army is also providing tented accommodation to hundreds of people.