Dozens of people are missing, feared dead after torrential rain in parts of the Pakistan-administered territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The short burst of rain, described as a cloudburst by local media, caused landslides and flash flooding of the Neelum River in the Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir, on 15 July, 2019. A cloudburst is a term regularly used in South Asia, usually to describe torrential downpours of over 100mm of rain in less than 1 hour.
The flash flooding left at least 22 people missing and feared dead. Teams from the Pakistan Army and Frontier Works Organization (FWO) have been deployed to carry out rescue operation and search for missing people.
In a statement of 15 July, the Pakistan Army said, “Army troops are assisting civil administration for rescue and relief of affected population due to Land Slide near Laswa village & Flash Flood in Neelum Jhelum River at Nauseri, Danni. Relief camps established. 52 stranded individuals have been heli evacuated to camps/ safer places. Search operation for drowned persons in progress. Relief effort also includes provision of food, rations and medical care.”
The flash flooding and landslides have caused severe material damages. Local media reported that around 150 homes along with some commercial and religious buildings have been destroyed in Leswa, Neelum District.
Roads and bridges have also been damaged and communities left stranded. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has activated its Mobile Operation control unit at Neelum valley to further monitor and survey the situation. NDMA said relief aid and medicines have been distributed among affected areas.
Aside from the extreme downpour in the Neelum Valley, steady rain has been falling in parts of Azad Kashmir for the last week. According to Pakistan Meteorological Department figures, Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, recorded significant rainfall in the last few days, with 37mm on 10 July, 43mm on 13 July and 40mm on 15 July. Muzaffarabad is about 45km (29 miles) south west of the Neelum Valley.
Pray for the people of Neelum Valley @asmashirazi @mahwashajaz_ @peaceforchange @AliaChughtai @RabiaAnumm #NeelumValley #kashmir pic.twitter.com/5TFFtNpfoO
— Ali Ahmed Abdopuri (@AAbdopuri) July 16, 2019