Most News Headlines on Kashmir floods continue to fall short of capturing the intensity of this calamity. I have put together some points which our friends in media and humanitarian agencies could use in their communications to capture the enormity of the crisis:
Critical Immediate Aid Requirements
– Critical aid requirements include: boats, drinking water, medicines, water purifying tablets, food, warm clothes, Beddings and Quilts (Razai), baby food, milk, liquid hand sanitisers, women’s hygiene kits, children’s hygiene kits.
The Disaster and Its Impact
– This is the worst flood Kashmir has witnessed in over a century
– Close to 5 million people are affected by the floods in Jammu & Kashmir – 4.5 million in Kashmir valley and half a million in the Jammu region*.
– Some 3 million people and their homes are submerged mainly in the districts of Srinagar, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Baramulla, Bandipora and Budgam.
– The submerged and affected people include Indian and foreign visitors and Indian construction workers – whose number is estimated at half a million.
– Flash floods in Jammu region has also resulted in disruption in road services in the district of Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi.
Disruption of Essential Services
– Drinking water and power services are suspended since Sunday (6th September) in Srinagar and other flood affected areas. Power has been restored to some areas close to Srinagar airport.
– Acute shortage of drinking water has now triggered second displacement – with the displaced people seeking shelter in places with drinking water. Such drinking water facilities are mostly available on the highlands in the peripheries of Srinagar and beyond.
– Water-borne diseases have started to surface with children being the worst hit. A sudden spike of diarrhea, fever, vomiting is being witnessed among children. Adults are affected too.
– Medical services are the worst hit in the flood-hit Kashmir at the moment. The region’s only care hospital SKIMS, Soura has not been submerged. However it can at present only be accessed by tiny Ganderbal district and some areas of Bandipora, Sopore and Baramulla through a long and treacherous road along the Wullar Lake. It is also accessible to some areas of Srinagar on the east side of Jhelum – from Noorbagh to Babademb areas.
– Srinagar’s main emergency hospital SMHS Hospital, G B Panth Children’s Hospital, Dental Hospital, JVC Hospital are submerged in water. There are unconfirmed reports of at least 40 children dying due to submersion in G B Panth Hospital. Bone & Joint Hospital Barzulla was initially submerged but remains damaged and mostly inaccessible. Chest Diseases Hospital, Dalgate remains out of bounds. Private hospitals like Noora Hospital, Modern Hospital, Khyber Hospital, Ramzana Nursing Home, Tahira Khanam Nursing Home, City Hospital Tengpora, Sheikh ul Aaalam Hospital Karan Nagar and other private hospitals remain submerged in water.
– Privately-run Ahmad Hospital at Nowgam with 25-beds remains the only hospital accessible from Srinagar airport. This hospital is presently providing whatever possible medical care it could.
– There is acute shortage of life saving medicines in the flood affected areas, with medical shops having run out of stocks.
– There are unconfirmed reports of people having died of natural reasons and their bodies remaining un-burried due to flood water and lack of mobility in the flood affected areas.
– Bodies of individuals dying of natural reasons lie in the upper floors of some Srinagar hospitals. Some people have been buried temporarily on higher grounds outside their family graveyards.
– Due to lack of access to medical care, child births are taking place in domestic settings in vast submerged and flood-isolated areas. People with health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and other critical illnesses are at highest risk due to unavailability of medicines.
– There is severe shortage of essential commodities. Markets – wherever free of water – have run out of stocks
– Due to submergence of critical go-downs in the commercial hubs of the flood affected areas, particularly in and around Srinagar, an acute shortage of supplies is likely to emerge in the next few days, which has a potential of creating large-scale disturbances.
– Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk, administrative districts, including civil secretariat, government TV and radio stations, Police headquarters, High Court, hospitals and almost all other important installations are submerged and immobilized as on 13th September 2014 .
– Kashmir’s only road linkage with the outside world – the Srinagar-Jammu highway – remains closed since seven days and is expected to open in another 4-5 days. Closure of this vital surface communication link has resulted in acute shortage of essential commodities in Kashmir. All supplies to Kashmir at present could only reach Srinagar by air.
– Although Srinagar Airport (the region’s only civilian airport) is open, access to Srinagar city from the airport and the larger Kashmir region is still not possible.
– North Kashmir continues to remain cut off from Srinagar airport (Skeletal access is possible though Budgam, Beerwa, Magam road).
– South Kashmir also continues to remain cut off from Srinagar airport and rest of the world due to continued closure of Jammu-Srinagar Highway and flooded Awantipora-Bijbehara areas. Some access to some areas of Pulwama, Shopian is possible through Nowgam, Newa road from Srinagar airport.
– Mobile network, landline phones, Internet, banking services (Including ATMs), local TV and radio services remain suspended. State-owned BSNL mobile services have been restored on Wednesday in some limited areas of Srinagar
Destruction and Casualties
– As of 11 September, 2014; according to police sources, 220 people have died in Srinagar city and bodies of women and children have been retrieved. The process of retrieving bodies is still on. Over 200 people have been killed by the floods elsewhere.
– Thousands of animals –cattle, goats, chicken, cats, dogs etc have died and their bodies are reportedly floating around.
-Stench from the dead has already started in many areas and outbreak of diseases is expected any time now.
– Hundreds of houses and buildings have collapsed in the last three days, especially in Old Srinagar – home to some 600,000 people.
The exact casualties and damage remains unknown.
About rescue and relief efforts:
– No organised government rescue and relief has been initiated as of now due to complete break-down of government administrative system
– Most of the rescue and relief efforts are being carried out by local volunteers and Indian army and air force. Close to 100,000 people – mostly visitors to and construction workers in Kashmir – have been evacuated in the last three days by armed forces. Local volunteer efforts – carried with improvised boats and floating objects – are estimated to have rescued about one million people.
– Massive relief efforts are on in Kashmir, mainly organised by local volunteer efforts from areas outside Srinagar (Ganderbal, Budgam, Pulwama, Baramulla, Bandipora, Ramban, Kupwara etc.) and the dry lands of South Srinagar and areas east of Jhelum (Downtown areas).
– In Srinagar areas like Hyderpora East Bypass, Parraypora, Rawalpora, Sanat Nagar, Rangreth are safe and are housing a large number of displaced people. On the eastern side of Jhelum, areas from Noorbagh upto Babademb in Old Srinagar are mostly free of water. These areas are also organising relief for the affected areas at a large scale.
– Hundreds of relief camps have been established in and around Srinagar mostly run by local volunteer efforts. Community kitchens and shelters have been organised in hundreds of villages and habitations in and outside Srinagar.
– MSF, Save the Children, Action Aid, ICRC and Handicap International are the only international aid agencies operating in Kashmir. No INGO rescue or relief effort has been initiated in Kashmir so far. Some relief efforts have been initiated in Jammu region, particularly in Rajouri area
– As of 11 September 2014, no inter-government or inter- aid agency coordination efforts have been initiated in Kashmir.
– Kashmiri diaspora, private individual and non governmental actions are beginning to witness aid mobilisation and transportation to Srinagar airport. The absence of a centralised coordinated system has the risk of this aid effort being duplicated or servicing non high priority areas.
– A Sphere India-led situation report – an inter-aid agency co-ordination system in India – has been issued from New Delhi on 9th September. The report draws upon secondary government and army information sources. An updated, ground- informed and comprehensive situation report is awaited.
As per 2011 census, the total population of the Indian side of Jammu & Kashmir is 12.55 million. Kashmir valley population is 6.9 million. At any given point of time the aggregate number of tourists, other visitors, Indian construction workers from other states in Kashmir is roughly 400,000 (excluding the number of armed forces).
The worst affected Srinagar district population is 1.25 million, while Anantnag district has 1.07 million and Kulgam district has 423,181. Other affected districts of Pulwama has a population of 570,060, Budgam – 755,331, Ganderbal – 297,003, Bandipora – 385,099, Baramulla – 1 million, Kupwara District 875,564. Other affected areas of Rajouri, Reasi and Poonch districts have populations of 619,266, 314,714 and 476,820 respectively.
(Updates upto 13 September 2014)
Prepared with Additional Inputs and Edited by Mazher Hussain, COVA, Hyderabad