The local government in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir declared flood alert in the region on Monday. The latest situation comes even as the state is still struggling to restore structures, which were devastated by September's flash floods.
The water levels in Jhelum rose steeply overnight due to heavy rains and the alarm for flood was sounded at 5:30 a.m. local time (8:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday) on Monday, Indian Express, a local newspaper, reported.
At least 16 people are feared trapped in collapsed houses, the government said Monday, according to Hindustan Times, a local newspaper.
A landslide in the region reportedly damaged at least two houses in the area and rescue efforts were underway to move the people to safer grounds.
“We have kept boats and buses ready for any evacuation from the low-lying areas,’’ Farooq Lone, a police official in the state’s capital of Srinagar, said, according to the Indian Express. "Two NDRF [National Disaster Response Force] teams are also arriving in Srinagar within the next few hours and boats have also been kept on the disposal of various police stations."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sent a team of high-level officials to the area to assess the situation. O.P. Singh, director of General National Disaster Response Force, said, according to the Times of India, a local newspaper, that four teams were on stand-by for rescue work.
"The good thing is that there has been no rainfall in the state from the last couple of hours. However, we are sending two fully equipped teams as a precautionary measure. Four teams are on a standby so there is no need to panic," Singh said, according to Times of India, adding: "The state government, central government and the NDRF are at their services. There is water logging in some areas as well. We are fully prepared and proactive and appeal people to not panic."
Until now, there has been no loss of communication and roads are still open. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday reportedly said he hoped the state doesn’t face a situation similar to last year's floods, where over 300 people died.