Kashmir flash floods leave 16 dead
Flash floods in the contentious Kashmir region have left 16 people dead and more than 40 injured after affecting Hindu worshippers.
Flash floods swept away hundreds of tents near a popular Hindu pilgrimage site in Kashmir, leaving 16 people dead and dozens more missing, officials said Saturday.
"We found 16 bodies so far and at least 40 are missing," an official from the state disaster response agency told AFP.
"Security forces and all the rescue teams are looking for the missing and injured," the official said on condition of anonymity, due to his lack of authorization to speak to the media.
The disaster prompted the Indian army to deploy two infantry battalions and special forces units to help with the search.
The rescue teams have so far taken 63 people with injuries away for treatment, including to a field hospital set up by the army in the mountains.
"We were a group of 150 and 30 of us are still stuck up there. Their phones are switched off," a pilgrim who managed to escape said.
This is the first time the pilgrimage is held since 2019 following a two-year-long suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kashmir is the cause of disputes between India and Pakistan, as it lies between the two states and the majority of its population is Muslim, while it remains under Indian rule.
The weather has long been a cause of disasters in the area due to its mountainous terrain, with nearly 250 people dying there in 1996 when they were suddenly caught up in snowstorms.
South Asia has been taking hits due to the weather too, with monsoon season rains killing dozens in June after causing flooding, landslides, and lightning strikes in India's northeast.
The same month saw more than 100 people killed in Bangladesh after rivers rose to record levels and inundated rural villages following heavy rains.
Though a regular occurrence in India and Bangladesh, floods have been increasing in frequency, gravity, and unpredictability due to climate change.
According to the UN, floods have always threatened Bangladesh as it is a country at a lower elevation, however, the climate crisis has made these natural disasters increasingly more frequent and much less predictable, thus threatening millions of people across the region.