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Baby among 15 killed by landslide in Indian Kashmir

KASHMIR: Emergency workers in Indian Kashmir have recovered 15 bodies including that of a three-week-old baby after a landslide triggered by heavy rains buried several houses.

The baby was found in his mother’s lap under “tons of mud”, police said Tuesday, as the grim task of searching for bodies continued.

The victims all belonged to two families who after the rains had moved into what they thought was the stronger of two houses in Ladden village, 35 kilometres west of Kashmir’s main city Srinagar.

“We have recovered 15 bodies. Efforts are on to find a missing boy who was also in the house,” superintendent of police for the area Fayaz Ahmed Lone told AFP.

He said the sole survivor had refused to leave his house, and was now “so shocked that he is not able to talk”.

Monday’s landslide hit as authorities issued a flood warning for Kashmir after the river Jhelum which runs through Srinagar rose above the danger level.

Homes in Srinagar were flooded for the second time in less than a year, and one man was washed away when he tried to cross a flash flood in his car.

With more rain forecast in the next three days, authorities said the danger was not yet over.

“The danger has receded for the moment but it is not over yet,” the state’s top official Gazanfar Hussain told AFP. “We are prepared for any situation.”

Hussain said the river was going down in most parts of the region, but lakes downstream were already full, posing a possible flood danger.

Memories are still fresh of the devastating floods that hit Kashmir in September, killing hundreds.

Tens of thousands of people were left stranded, when floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains devastated parts of Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan’s neighbouring Punjab province.

On the Indian side of the border alone, the floods killed around 300 people, left thousands more homeless and destroyed property and infrastructure worth an estimated $16 billion.

Some Srinagar residents have accused authorities of not doing enough to prevent a repeat of that disaster, which many said was exacerbated by a failure of the state government to prepare for flooding.

Many shops remained shut in Srinagar on Tuesday, while traders in the main commercial district had moved their goods to safer places.

The latest floods have largely spared Pakistan.

Akram Sohail, chairman of the Disaster Management Authority in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said it had issued warnings not to get too close to the river.

“We have also issued an alert for a further rise in water level because of heavy rains and flooding on the Indian side,” he told AFP. -AFP

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