Recent flooding brought by heavy monsoon rains has wrought death and destruction in India and Pakistan since the rains began on September 2.
Floods aren’t uncommon in Kashmir, but these have been particularly severe in terms of damage and loss of life.
Nearly 500 have lost their lives in both countries, officials tell CNN.
At least 280 people have been killed in Pakistan and more than 500 others injured, the government there said.
And at least 200 people have died in flooding in Indian-administered Kashmir, Indian Home Ministry spokesman Kuldeep Dhatwalia told CNN.
Some volunteers in that country fear the toll could be much higher.
“Our teams on the ground in Srinagar have seen a number of bodies floating. The casualty is believed to be much more than what his being officially reported,” said Syed Zafar Mahmood, president of the nonprofit Zakat Foundation of India group. “A number of villages have been washed away.”
By Saturday, military and other emergency crews were able to rescue more than 276,000 people from parts of the flood-ravaged region under Indian control, according to officials.
Home to 12 million people, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is India’s 19th most populous province.
Indian officials said rescue efforts continued on a massive scale, but refused to confirm reports that hundreds of thousands of people still remained stranded a week after floods wreaked havoc in the Himalayan valley.
Public anger has grown over the government response to the disaster in the restive mountain state, beset with decades-old militancy and a center of conflict between archrivals India and Pakistan.
TV footage showed frustrated residents shouting slogans and heckling at least one senior Kashmiri politician, who visited a relief camp in Srinagar in the aftermath of the catastrophe. There have also been reports of sporadic attacks against rescuers.
Many people are accusing the local government of a failure to deal with the disaster.
“There was a complete breakdown of communication,” said Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed, a New Delhi-based Kashmiri man whose ancestral house collapsed in Srinagar. “Hospitals got flooded. There was no one to coordinate locally with rescue teams arriving from other parts of the country. How can they be expected to know the topography of the valley?”
Pakistani military delivers aid
In Pakistan, the flooding has affected more than 2 million people, the government said.
The military has blown up dykes in the central part of the country to prevent overflowing rivers from swamping cities, according to the government.
Meanwhile, the military is evacuating residents and dropping food by air in the districts of Multan, Muzaffargarh and Jhang, the Pakistani military said.
Civilian and military officials have been using helicopters and boats to evacuate marooned people since September 3, the military said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited flood-affected residents in Athara Hazari in Jhang district Saturday, according to his office.
Sharif said the federal and provincial governments were working together to help the flood victims, adding that “this is not a favor, but the responsibility of the government to extend a helping hand to the calamity-hit people.”