Some of the worst flooding and mudslides in memory has hit northern India and parts of Pakistan, according to reports. The death toll, caused by monsoon rains, was reported as being more then 350 Monday as emergency responders in both countries struggled to reach stranded people, many of whom fled to treetops to keep from being swept away. Thousands of homes have been destroyed after the Jhelum and Chanab rivers swelled following last week’s heavy tropical rainfall.
"The situation is extremely grim," Rohit Kansal, a commissioner from India-administered Kashmir, told the AP. Rescuers were using boats and helicopters to pull people stranded without food or water. The Indian Army said water levels on the Jhelum in Srinagar city reached as much as 18 feet above normal while the BBC showed rescue crews trying to reach residents on a partially collapsed bridge. The Times of India said over 23,000 people on Monday were evacuated from flooded regions in north India on Monday.
Varying death toll reports Monday underscore the pace at which rescue operations are finding dead flood victims. The AP count over 160 people dead in Pakistan and about 120 deaths in India. The New York Times the total death toll stood at more than 190 while the L.A. Times put the death toll at over 350.
The severity of the flooding has led both countries to set aside their differences over Kashmir to assist each other in disaster response that has affected areas on both sides of the heavily militarized line dividing the Indian and Pakistan controlled areas if the region.
“We also feel the pain of the people of Indian-Occupied Kashmir and are ready to help them in whatever way possible,” a spokesperson for Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told Pakistan’s Daily Times. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered Sharif assistance in flood relief operations.