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Updated: August 11, 2010 01:06 IST

23 foreigners among 166 killed in Leh flash floods

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Monks conduct rescue operations at Choklansar on the outskirts of Leh on Tuesday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The Hindu
Monks conduct rescue operations at Choklansar on the outskirts of Leh on Tuesday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Three French nationals, an Italian and a Spaniard were among 23 foreigners killed in cloudburst and flash floods that devastated Leh last Friday even as 73 injured people, including security personnel, were today flown out of the region by IAF for medical help.

The toll in the tragedy rose to 166 with 400 people still missing, official sources said.

Three French citizens — Augavelis Henri, Hellot Jacques and Daniel Hauri, an Italian identified as Riccardo Titton and Maromas Maria Lousdes from Spain have been declared dead, they said.

Sixteen of those killed are from Nepal, namely Nema Zangmo, Tsering Neklal, Bakta Bahadur, Kama Lama, Ajay Raina, Khunchok Gelak, Lakpa Gyalmo, Shekhar, Mahurdin Ansari, Manee Patel, Ramesh Patel, Narai Badur Sume, Santosh Kumar, Nel Badur, Saryanareyan Chaudhary and Anil Chaudhary, they said.

Two other victims were Tibetans. They were identified as Pasang Tsering and Tsering Yangkyid, the sources said.

Meanwhile, 73 people, including 49 security personnel, who were injured at different places following cloudburst, were brought to Udhampur from Leh for treatment in an IL-76 transport aircraft this morning, Group Captain of IAF P M Vithalkar said.

A special control room has been set up in the Ministry of External Affairs to streamline the collation and dissemination of information on foreigners affected by the tragedy.

“Information about Indians and foreign nationals who have sadly lost their lives, have been injured or are stranded in different parts, is being collated by agencies involved in rescue and relief effort,” the Ministry said.

Even as a massive relief and rescue operation continued, the state Revenue Department has begun a painstaking exercise to gauge the extent of economic damage suffered by the district.

“What we feel is that 40 per cent of our infrastructure, which is irrigation canals, link roads and bridges, have been destroyed. Another 40 per cent have been partially damaged. May be 20 per cent is intact,” Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council chairman Chering Dorjay told PTI.

He said the cloudburst has severely affected agriculture. “We now have a standing crop but all the irrigation canals have been washed away especially the headworks. In some places, the nallahs have become deeper by as much as 20 feet,” he said.

Even at a rough estimate, it will take a minimum of two years for the disaster-hit district to be rebuilt and this would involve thousands of tonnes of cement, steel, bitumen and other construction materials, he said.

The Leh calamity figured in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday with two Congress members from Jammu and Kashmir requesting the Centre to ensure all support in rehabilitation of the affected.

“Calamity has struck Ladakh. Thousands are still missing,” Lal Singh said during Zero Hour. Noting that the Centre had announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs one lakh to each of those killed, he said it was not enough.

His party colleague from the state Madan Lal Sharma also raised the issue, saying thousands of people have been left homeless by the tragedy.

BJP leader L.K. Advani asked his party MPs to donate Rs 10,000 from their salary for providing relief to the victims and suggested that the MPLAD funds be diverted for rehabilitation and rebuilding of the region.

“In the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting today, Advani suggested that all MPs should give Rs 10,000 from their salary to Sangh Parivar’s Sewa Bharti which is active in providing relief to the people affected by flash floods in Leh,” Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said in New Delhi.

The money will be collected by the party and sent to Sewa Bharti soon, he said.

“We will take up this issue through Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman in both Houses of Parliament for diverting funds of members for Leh flash floods,” Mr. Ahluwalia said.

Several labourers from Chhattisgarh, who were working in the region, are reported missing while seven were found dead following the floods, the party said. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has promised all help to bring the survivors back to their home state and provide relief to the families of the dead.

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