Flash floods kill 103 in India

People walk around an area affected by flash floods in Leh, in Indian-controlled Kashmir’s normally arid, mountainous region of Ladakh on Friday. Gushing water swept away houses, cars and buses in a 60-square-mile swath in and around Leh.

Associated Press

People walk around an area affected by flash floods in Leh, in Indian-controlled Kashmir’s normally arid, mountainous region of Ladakh on Friday. Gushing water swept away houses, cars and buses in a 60-square-mile swath in and around Leh.

SRINAGAR, India — A cloudburst followed by flash floods hit a Himalayan desert region in Indian-controlled Kashmir, sending rivers of mud down mountainsides and killing at least 112 and injuring another 400, officials said today.

Nine bodies were recovered overnight from the debris of collapsed homes in the remote region of Ladakh, said state police chief Kuldeep Khoda.

Heavy downpours triggered floods and mudslides in many places Friday, burying homes and toppling power and telecommunication towers.

Nearly 2,000 foreign tourists were in Ladakh, a popular destination for adventure sports enthusiasts. There were no immediate reports of any foreigners being killed or injured.

Gushing waters swept away houses, cars and buses in a 60-square-mile swath in and around Leh, the main town in Ladakh, Khoda said.

Police and soldiers rescued more than 150 people, including 100 foreign tourists, mostly Europeans, stranded in Pang village, northeast of Leh, army spokesman Lt. Col. J.S. Brar said in Srinagar, the main city in India's portion of Kashmir.

August is peak tourist season when thousands of Western tourists and backpackers flock to Ladakh, about 280 miles east of Srinagar. It is a high-altitude desert, with a stark moonscape-like terrain, about 11,500 feet above sea level. It has very low precipitation and the downpour was a rare occurrence.

The deluge came as neighboring Pakistan suffered the worst flooding in decades, with millions displaced and 1,500 dead.

In Ladakh, two soldiers were missing and 14 were injured, Brar said. Khoda said at least three policemen had been killed during rescue operations. It was unclear how many people were left homeless, but Khoda said at least 2,000 displaced people had been housed in two government-run shelters.

Ladakh is a largely Buddhist area and has been untouched by anti-India civil unrest by Kashmiri Muslims that has gripped large parts of Indian Kashmir for nearly two months. At least 49 people have died.

Flash floods kill 103 in India 08/07/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 7, 2010 12:16am]

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