Responding to widespread public anger at his government’s handling of the recent Kashmir floods, chief minister Omar Abdullah said floodwaters paralyzed emergency services.
“My government couldn’t respond in the first 24 hours as we didn’t have a government,” Abdullah said in an interview with Indian news channel NDTV. “My secretariat, the police headquarters, the control room, fire services, hospitals, all the infrastructure was underwater,” he said, adding that he was only now able to get in touch with his ministers.
The New York Times had earlier reported widespread anger against the government as the floodwaters receded, with multiple instances of attacks on rescue services being reported.
More than 200 people have been killed over the past week in the worst floods the Kashmir region has seen in five decades, with an equal number perishing in neighboring parts of Pakistan. The Indian army and disaster response forces have collectively transported nearly 100,000 people to safety, but thousands more remain stranded on rooftops waiting for help.
In the state capital, Srinagar, meanwhile, people began taking advantage of receding water levels by looting abandoned homes, according to the Times of India.
More than 700,000 villagers in India and Pakistan have been forced to flee their homes as record flooding sweeps through their neighborhoods.