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Kashmiri men move with their cattle from their flooded neighborhood in Srinagar. AP Photo/Dar Yasin

Indian and Pakistan floods becoming "national emergency" as hundreds die

Thousands more have been left homeless.

India Kashmir Flooding An aerial view of the banks of the Tawi River that was damaged in the floods on the outskirts of Jammu. AP Photo / Channi Anand AP Photo / Channi Anand / Channi Anand

DESPERATE RESIDENTS WERE huddled on rooftops today as they tried to survive Indian Kashmir’s worst flooding in half a century which has already claimed more than 150 lives and left thousands homeless.

In neighboring Pakistan, more than 160 people have died and thousands of homes have collapsed, with an official saying the situation was becoming a “national emergency.”

With all phone lines down in the main city of Srinagar and roads cut off, the exact scale of the disaster is still unclear but video footage shot from army helicopters showed entire villages completely under water.

Residents could be seen waving from rooftops while vehicles and livestock were washed away by the flood waters.

Disaster officials say some 350 villages have been submerged since torrential monsoon rains triggered flooding and landslides across the picturesque Himalayan region.

Blankets, tents, and aid

Thousands of troops, police and other emergency personnel, backed by helicopters and boats, have fanned out across the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the state to deliver blankets, tents and other aid in an attempt to minimise casualties, the officials said.

“With some 750 rescue personnel in operations there, our teams have saved about 5,005 people so far,” Sandeep Rai Rathore, inspector general of the National Disaster Response Force, told AFP.

“But this will go on for a couple more days or even more because the water level has not yet receded. We have to try to save all human life.”

The rain-swollen Jhelum river flooded large parts of Srinagar over the weekend snapping communication lines and blocking road links.

India Kashmir Flooding Kashmiri men move with their cattle from their flooded neighborhood in Srinagar. AP Photo / Dar Yasin AP Photo / Dar Yasin / Dar Yasin

Vinod Vishen, a resident of Srinagar’s upmarket Karan Nagar neighbourhood, described on Facebook how he had moved his entire family to the top of the house.

“Water rising relentlessly,” Vishen wrote, later expressing fears that old houses in the area could collapse.

“Old houses are expected to collapse as water softens up the weight bearing walls. Very very grim situation,” he posted.

Although there was no fresh rainfall on Monday, officials say the death toll is bound to rise.

“Unofficially, the casualties are most definitely over 150 right now. This is a flash flood. Thankfully people are not without any help,” an official of the National Disaster Management Authority told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

India Kashmir Flooding Kashmiri men use a makeshift raft to evacuate an elderly man and his grand daughter. Dar Yasin Dar Yasin

Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the region Sunday and met top relief officials, describing the situation as “a national-level disaster”.

Across the de-facto border in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, flash flooding and house collapses from days of heavy rain have left another 205 people dead and damaged hundreds of villages and houses, officials from Pakistan’s national disaster management agency told AFP on Monday.

More than 4,000 homes across Pakistan have collapsed, rendering thousands of people homeless.

An official said the situation was becoming a “national emergency.”

Pakistan’s armed forces and civilian rescuers have mounted a massive operation using helicopters and boats to get villagers to safety. Kamal said 95 relief camps had been set up for those displaced by the flooding.

In a letter to his counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Modi extended his “deepest sympathies” to flood-hit Pakistanis and offered to provide relief assistance.

- © AFP, 2014additional reporting by Associated Press

Watch: ‘Monsoon’ flood rips through Arizona desert region >

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