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World > Asia-Pacific > Asia flooding devastates millions, kills hundreds

400 missing after flash floods in Indian Kashmir

2010-08-08 09:03:23 GMT2010-08-08 17:03:23 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Foreign tourists assist locals in removing debris from a flash flood-affected area of Leh, India, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. Authorities stepped up rescue efforts as the weather improved Saturday, a day after flash floods sent rivers of mud down desert mountainsides in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds, officials said. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

In this photo provided by the Indian Army, medical staff help an injured at a relief camp in Leh, India, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. Authorities stepped uprescue efforts as the weather improved Saturday, a day after flash floods sent rivers of mud down desert mountainsides in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing scores of people Oand injuring hundreds, officials said. (AP Photo/Indian Army)

A van is washed by slidge into a restaurant in flood damaged Choglamsar village, on the outskirts of Leh, India, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. Authorities steppedup rescue efforts as the weather improved Saturday, a day after flash floods sent rivers of mud down desert mountainsides in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds, officials said.(AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

A car stands rammed through a broken wall after it was washed by a mudslide in flash flood damaged Choglamsar village, on the outskirts of Leh, India,Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010. Authorities stepped up rescue efforts as the weather improved Saturday, a day after flash floods sent rivers of mud down desert mountainsides in Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds, officials said. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Rescuers dug through crushed homes and piles of mud Sunday searching for 400 people still missing after flash floods sent massive mudslides down remote desert mountainsides in Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials said. The death toll rose to 132 with about 500 others injured.

Thousands of army, police and paramilitary soldiers were clearing roads to reach isolated villages in the Ladakh region cut off by Friday's powerful thunderstorms, state police Chief Kuldeep Khoda said.

The injured were being treated at an army hospital and several makeshift clinics in and around Leh, the worst-hit town, Khoda said.

Officials said the missing people included 28 army soldiers.

About 2,000 foreign tourists were in Ladakh, a popular destination for adventure sports enthusiasts, when the storm hit Friday, burying homes and toppling power and telecommunication towers. There were no reports of casualties among foreigners.

Authorities were arranging special flights to fly the tourists to New Delhi from Leh on Sunday.

Rescuers still had not reached about 5,000 people in Choglamsar, a village on Leh's outskirts, because of mudslides blocking the road, police officer Nawang Tsering said.

Mohammed Deen Khan, a social activist who tried to reach the village on Saturday, said the mud was about 15 feet (4.5 meters) high in some places. He said authorities were facing a shortage of bulldozers and heavy earth movers.

About 100 stranded foreign tourists, mostly Europeans, were evacuated from Pang village northeast of Leh, army spokesman Lt. Col. J.S. Brar said in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir.

August is peak tourist season in Ladakh, about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east of Srinagar. It is a high-altitude desert with a stark moonscape-like terrain, and normally received very little rain.

The deluge came as neighboring Pakistan suffered its worst flooding in decades, with millions displaced and about 1,500 dead.

(Agencies)

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