A temple to to the god Ganesh is immersed in floodwaters in Indian-administered Kashmir after the worst floods in half a century. Photo: Rock937online.com

9 September 2014 (BBC News) – Tens of thousands of people are still stranded in Indian-administered Kashmir after the worst floods in half a century. With road and communication links cut off, the Indian military is using helicopters and boats to reach those in distress. The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder was on board a relief flight to witness the impact of the floods.

At the Jammu air base, there is a flurry of activity in the early hours of the morning.

A fleet of Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters are being loaded up with supplies.

Our aircraft is bound for Kishtwar, deep in the Kashmir Valley, which remains cut off because of the floods.

It's carrying sacks and crates of rations - vegetables such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant among others.

"The main rescue phase is now over for the most part and our priority now is to provide relief to those in need," says Air Commodore PE Patange, who is in charge. [...]

From the air, as we head towards the Kashmir Valley, we get a sense of the impact of the floods.

The water has receded in most places and the rivers are no longer overflowing.

But there are plenty of signs of destruction - eroded riverbanks, bridges destroyed, a pile of debris where a road once stood, a communication tower on its side.

"Just a few days ago, all of this was covered in water," one of the crewmen tells me, pointing down to the lush green landscape with the Chenab river snaking through it. [...]

Getting through to the state capital, Srinagar, is particularly difficult.

"The last few days were very challenging," says Air Commodore Patange.

"Entire areas were submerged and there was no place to land our helicopters. We had to drop supplies from the air and evacuate people using winches and ropes." [more]

Kashmir flood relief operation a major challenge


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