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Over 47,000 evacuated in flood-hit Kashmir

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Jammu, Sep 9 (IANS) The armed forces and NDRF personnel have rescued 47,227 people in Jammu and Kashmir as relief efforts continue in the flood-hit parts of the state, defence officials said on Tuesday.

A massive rescue and relief operation by the Indian armed forces was on in Jammu and Kashmir, with more helicopters and rescue material including boats pressed into service Tuesday, said an official statement from the defence ministry.

In Srinagar, 4,000 people were evacuated. Those included a Nepali diplomat along with a 17-member delegation and a 28-member Pakistani golf team (part of a SAARC team) Sep 8, according to official information.

A statement from the army said: "The focus of the humanitarian effort by the army is gradually shifting from rescue to ‘relief operations’."

The army has deployed 220 columns of its personnel for rescue and relief operations, of which 135 columns were deployed in Srinagar region and 85 in Jammu region.

The rescuers have distributed 7,200 blankets and 210 tents so far.

The army has also distributed 42,000 litres of water, 600 kg of biscuits, seven tonnes of baby food and 1,000 food packets in the flood-affected areas.

"Additional water bottles are being airlifted from Chandigarh and Delhi. In order to meet the shortage of food, cooked food including biscuits are being sent from Delhi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad on a large scale," an official statement said.

In an endeavour to provide speedy medical aid to the affected people, 80 medical teams of the Armed Forces Medical Services have also swung into action.

"Deployment of medical teams has increased from 65 to 80. Additional resources being inducted include engineer task forces, a field hospital, ready to eat meals, packed milk, blankets, potable water, baby food etc. Approximately, 200 boats have been mobilised and more are underway," the statement said.

So far, 451 sorties have been undertaken by helicopters and aircraft of the Indian Air Force and 563 tonnes of relief material has been air dropped.

Altogether, 61 aircraft and helicopters have been pressed into action.

The army has pressed 13 Chetak and five Advanced Light Helicopters into service. Around 100-120 sorties are being flown daily in the relief effort.

As many as 135 army boats and 148 inflatable boats of the NDRF are actively involved in the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, public sector telecom company BSNL, with the assistance of the armed forces, is trying hard to restore its mobile services through the satellite network and the telecom network.

"Besides, air force communication equipment and a team from a private telecom company are being airlifted from Delhi," the statement said.

To restore road connectivity, five task forces of the Border Roads Organisation, which include 5,700 personnel, have been pressed into service.

As of now, they have restored road connectivity between Batote and Kishtwar. Work between Kishtwar and Sinthan Pass is in progress.

Fifteen engineering task force teams along with boats and other lifesaving equipment have reached the flood affected areas to supplement the rescue operation.

The situation was being continuously monitored at the headquarters of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) in New Delhi.

In Srinagar, army columns concentrated their efforts on Rajbagh, Shivpura, Indira Nagar, Bemina and Tankpura.

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