World Bulletin/News Desk
Floods that have killed 450 people in India and Pakistan began to recede on Wednesday giving rescue teams a chance to evacuate thousands of villagers stranded by the heaviest rainfall in 50 years in the heavily militarised and disputed region of Kashmir.
On the Indian side of the divided region, floods and landslides have cut off more than 1 million people from basic services, triggering a massive military rescue operation that has so far evacuated 80,000 from villages and city rooftops.
Tempers rose on Wednesday with some angry that relief efforts were only reaching them six days after the floods began. Others complained about living conditions in temporary camps.
Villagers heckled some soldiers and beat a rescue official who was airlifted for emergency treatment.
The flooding is the first major humanitarian emergency under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also comes at a difficult time for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has faced weeks of street protests aimed at forcing him out.
Many phone lines in the region have been down since the weekend. A police official estimated that thousands were yet to be evacuated.
State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah vowed to restore emergency services.
"I know people have lost everything. We promise to rehabilitate them. No relief and rehab camps can be perfect. We are doing all we can," Abdullah told reporters.
He said the priority was to distribute clean drinking water, medicines, food for infants and prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.
But violence flared up again on the Line of Control on Wednesday even as flood rescue operations were under way elsewhere.
Kashmir has been at the heart of decades of rivalry since a war after independence from Britain in 1947. New Delhi maintains a massive military presence in its northernmost territory it occupies.
The Indian army has evacuated 80,000 people from their homes, mosques and government buildings. The death toll from the flooding in Jammu and Kashmir, the country's northernmost state, reached 220 by Wednesday.
South Asia experiences monsoon rains from June to September, which are vital for its agriculture. But the rains frequently turn to floods, devastating crops, destroying homes and prompting outbreaks of diseases and diarrhoea.
Environmentalists in New Delhi said the death toll and devastation in Kashmir was alarming and the government should recognise that floods were getting worse because of climate change.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said this year's monsoon rains had killed more than 1,000 people in India aloneLast Mod: 10 Eylül 2014, 17:23