Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed nearly 300 people in large swaths of northern India and Pakistan.
Five days of incessant rains in Indian-controlled Kashmir have left at least 120 people dead in the region’s worst flooding in more than five decades, submerging hundreds of villages and triggering landslides, officials said.
In neighbouring Pakistan, more than 160 people have died and thousands of homes have collapsed, with an official saying the situation was becoming a “national emergency”.
Rescuers in both countries are using helicopters and boats to try to reach tens of thousands of people stranded in their homes as floodwaters rose and submerged many villages.
Rescue efforts in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, were hampered by fast-moving floodwaters that swamped large parts of the city.
The rains had stopped on Sunday, but officials said the spreading water from the overflowed Jhelum River was moving too fast to allow boats to reach many stranded people.
By evening, several boats had been deployed to start rescue efforts.
In many of Srinagar’s neighbourhoods, the water was about four metres deep, submerging entire houses.
Floodwaters entered the first floor of the state’s main maternity hospital, forcing more than 200 patients and attendants to move to higher floors.
Thousands of police officers and army rescue workers were fanned out across Jammu and Kashmir to help with relief and rescue efforts.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveyed the flood-hit areas from a helicopter on Sunday and promised the state federal help to deal with the devastation, which he described as a “national level disaster”.
Across Indian Kashmir, at least 450 villages have been submerged and 2000 others have been affected by the floodwaters.
All schools, colleges and offices have been shut, and electricity and drinking water supplies have been limited across the state.
In Pakistan, 103 people have died in the eastern province of Punjab from the collapse of houses, flooding and electrocution, according to the province’s rescue agency.