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The magnitude of the flooding in Indian-administered Kashmir is still unfolding. The state government has appealed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for financial aid as parts of Srinagar, a city of 1 million, remains submerged with residents missing. NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from the flooded city.
JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: In this city of picturesque houseboats, new lakes from torrential rains lapped as high as two stories in parts of the city. Waves hit the curb like a breakwater as cars plow the streets. While the flood waters are receding, residents are venting their anger.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTS)
MCCARTHY: At this traffic-choked crossing Saturday, men and women clambered inside a local government relief truck, cleaning it out of sacks of rice.
MCCARTHY: People are hungry and they have now started to steal the food out of the distribution truck. And nothing and no one is stopping them though the police are just feet away.
MCCARTHY: The Kashmiri police literally ran away when asked why they had not intervened. Junilla Nagar, age 50, was muscled aside by the frenzied crowd.
JUNILLA NAGAR: (Foreign language spoken).
MCCARTHY: We had nothing to eat for days says the mother of four. Nagar points to an injured leg and says now it's so difficult to scuffle and jostle in these crowds. She adds I worry we won't survive because I had to drink the floodwater.
Not far from this scene, a boat from the National Disaster Response Force plies the fetid waters. On shore, a crowd shouts for a ride on the inflatable craft that hovers over the streets now covered by five feet of water. We spot men swimming through the flotsam. We float past the city's largest maternity hospital, now emptied of patients. Seventeen-year-old Gupreet Bakshi boards the boat and sums up her mental state.
GUPREET BAKSHI: Very depressed.
MCCARTHY: Bakshi says her family has spent the last three days living at a mosque because their waterlogged home is about to collapse.
BAKSHI: We were taken to the mosque by the initiative of the local people only. The government didn't help us at all.
MCCARTHY: Back on dry land, volunteer doctors say there is a shortage of medicine. There are reports that 14 children died in a flooded hospital. Surgeon Asaf Khanday says at his small private Ahmed Hospital, volunteers donated fuel to keep the generator going. In three of the worst days of flooding he says his was the city's only functioning hospital and doctors performed 90 cesarean sections.
DR. ASAF KHANDAY: Nine zero.
MCCARTHY: How many would you normally perform in three days, normally?
KHANDAY: In this hospital, maybe four.
MCCARTHY: The Army says it has rescued some 125,000 people despite being pelted with stones in some places. A revolt against Indian rule here has simmered for decades. Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan and a heavy army presence keeps a lid on rebellion. Firdous Ahmad Mir says...
FIRDOUS AHMAD MIR: The crux of the problem is we are an occupied people. That is why they are not interested in saving us.
MCCARTHY: The remark is repeated in this disaster where anger over the floods has become an extension of the general rage over Kashmir's disputed status. Julie McCarthy, NPR News, New Delhi.
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