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At Least 80 Dead: Monsoonal Rains Cause Devastating Floods and Landslides in Kashmir

5 Sep 2014, 1:16 pm


Photo credit: Twitter/LalaLoyalist
(Flooding at  a stadium in Lahore, Pakistan on Sept. 5.)

Kashmir — a hotly disputed Himalayan territory situated between India, Pakistan and China — has been inundated with heavy monsoonal rains in recent days. And those pounding rains have caused catastrophic flooding and deadly landslides in the region. At last check, 80 people in the region had died and that number is expected to climb in the coming days.

Half of those deaths might have originated from one gathering alone. “At least 40 members of a marriage party are feared dead when their bus was washed away due to flash floods,” Mubassir Latifi, a senior police superintendent in the region told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

What’s the cause of all this rain? In a word: Monsoon. The monsoon season in that part of the world, especially on the Indian Subcontinent, is one of the most prolific rain-producers on Earth. While exact rainfall totals couldn’t be found for the Kashmir region of India, the Indian Meteorological department reports that 108 millimeters of rain fell, in the neighboring province, over the span of just a few hours. When warm, moist air — associated with southwest monsoonal winds — is coupled upslope flow [moving up higher terrain], there’s a recipe for very heavy rainfall over a short amount of time. And the rain in the Kashmir region has been record-setting to say the least.

According to a report by the Times of India — an English-language newspaper located in Bombay — this is the worst flooding in Kashmir in nearly 60 years. The Times of India went on to say that in addition to the human cost, the torrent of water washed roads out, damaged at least two dozen bridges and decimated crops.

The flooding wasn’t only relegated to the Kashmir regions, the Punjab region of Pakistan also reported significant flooding. Images coming out of the Pakistani city of Lahore show streets, homes and even a stadium flooded out.

Thousands of people are being evacuated and sent to higher ground, abandoning their home and livelihoods while they wait for the floodwaters to recede. Unfortunately, the forecast is continuing to call for ample monsoon moisture, which means more rain for the flood-stricken region.

WeatherNation meteorologists will continue to keep an eye in the situation in Kashmir and bring you more details as they become available.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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