India fights to prevent spread of diseases after Kashmir flooding

More than 200,000 people have been rescued in the past eight days

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The Independent Online

Emergency workers battled today to prevent waterborne diseases such as cholera from spreading as fetid water swilled around the Kashmir Valley more than a week after what was said to be the worst flooding in decades.

More than 75,000 people were still in partly submerged homes in Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city. Both the Indian and Pakistani sides of the disputed Himalayan region have seen extensive flooding this month. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands are homeless.

"Floating carcasses have become a big source of worry with most houses still waterlogged. We are struggling to get in touch with government health officials," said Abul Syed Rahman, who owns three hotels in Kashmir.

Altaf Hussein, a paediatrician who was treating flood victims in improvised camps, complained of shortages of life-saving drugs, intravenous fluids and sanitary products.

"We need aerial fumigation ... as these waters can cause waterborne diseases, including cholera," said Hussein.

Both the Indian and Pakistani sides of the disputed Himalayan region have seen extensive flooding this month with Srinagar particularly hard hit. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands are homeless.

Authorities say the cost of damage in Indian-administered Kashmir may run into billions of dollars.

There were signs the relief operation was gaining traction as authorities brought in heavy-duty pumps to evacuate water from low-lying residential areas, including two from state-controlled Indian oil company ONGC.

The federal government delivered 25 water filtration plants with the capacity to filter 400,000 litres a day, and 13 tonnes of water purification tablets.

More than 200,000 people have been rescued in the past eight days and communication networks partially restored.

"Finally, we are seeing some government officials trying to restore basic services. In the last eight days we had no help from the government," said Alam Wani, a Srinagar bank official.

Wani's two-storey house has been partially submerged since the onset of torrential rain, forcing him to move into a mosque with his family of eight.

Reuters

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