Torrential rains and mud slides have devastated thousands of families in the Leh –Ladakh region of India. A violent cloudburst caused flash floods that killed at least 185 people. More than 85,000 men, women and children have been affected. In response, AmeriCares India has mounted relief efforts including medical aid deliveries and support from disaster experts.
AmeriCares emergency responders from Mumbai are in Leh working with government officials and local partners. Critical medicines have already been delivered to address immediate health needs and dehydration.
The 153 General Hospital (Army Hospital) in the area, which escaped major damage in the flooding, responded to the first victims of the flood despite the fact that it is a military hospital that does not see civilians. Govt. SNM Hospital, the region's main referral hospital, sustained serious structural damage due to mudslides, flooding and an avalanche of boulders and hence was rendered non-functional. However, a new structure, being built on the same grounds as the original SMN hospital, survived the flooding. Although the building is unfinished, it is now open and has become the focal point for the district’s healthcare infrastructure and the focus of AmeriCares emergency assistance. The dedicated doctors and nurses at the hospital are working hard to continue to treat people injured during the catastrophe.
"People arrived in droves at the hospital, suffering from deep cuts, broken bones, shattered skulls, torn ears and mud in their eyes. They were immediately given tetanus vaccines and medications to prevent serious infections and relieve their pain," reported Bret McEvoy, an AmeriCares disaster relief expert working in Leh.
Officials believe the death toll will continue to rise as countless people have been buried under collapsed buildings, mud and debris. There is severe damage to the highway system and continuing rains hamper relief efforts, further isolating families in remote areas from relief.
"More assistance is desperately needed to help the survivors of the Leh cloudburst and floods. AmeriCares will continue to support the relief effort with additional deliveries of medicines, medical supplies and hospital equipment," said McEvoy.
The flooding in Northern India has added another dimension to an expanding crisis in Asia as record rains have produced disastrous flooding in Pakistan, North Korea, China and beyond. AmeriCares is assembling more resources and coordinating with partners to respond with targeted emergency relief as the flooding affects more regions and countries on the continent.