SRINAGAR: The death toll in the Jammu & Kashmir floods has risen to 160 as the floods, the worst the state has seen in 60 years, affected a staggering 2,500 villages, Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said as he assured help to deal with the grim situation.
Rajnath Singh told the media at the Jammu airport that “160 people have lost their lives in these floods. Floods of this magnitude have hit Jammu & Kashmir after 60 years.”
He said 2,500 villages were affected, out of which 450 were completely submerged.
The home minister arrived in the state earlier in the day on a day’s visit to take stock of the flood situation.
Rajnath Singh said in Srinagar that he had met chief minister Omar Abdullah and senior officials who briefed him about the severity of the situation.
“If there is so much devastation in the city, I wonder what would be the situation like in rural areas,” Singh said, who had to cancel an aerial tour because of inclement weather.
“I want to assure the people and the government of Jammu & Kashmir that the central government stands beside you in your hour of crisis and we extend all necessary help to you,” he said.
The home minister was accompanied by minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions Jitendra Singh.
The chief minister told him the state’s top most concern was the safety of human lives and to evacuate those trapped in submerged areas.
But he also said that paddy, maize, vegetables and fruit crops over a large area have been destroyed.
He said the public infrastructure and private property besides residential houses were damaged.
Revenue and relief secretary Vinod Koul, earlier in the day said that 390 villages were submerged in the Valley, while 1,225 were partially affected. He said in Jammu region alone, 1,000 villages were affected by the flood waters.
He said that 50 bridges, hundreds of kilometres of roads and power installations units were damaged and a final assessment could be made only after the flood waters receded.
He added that the state urgently needs 25,000 tents and 40,000 blankets.