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Indian soldiers washed away to Pakistan in Kashmir

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Srinagar, India, Aug 9, IRNA -- India has sought help from the arch rival Pakistan to trace scores of its soldiers it fears might have got swept away across the dividing Line of Control into Pakistani side in Friday's devastating flash floods in Kashmir's frontier Ladakh region.

Soldiers were on guard along the dividing line when the calamity struck Friday night.

Official sources said at least 33 soldiers are missing from a place called Turtuk. Turtuk is situated on the banks of River Shyok, which meanders into Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir.

These soldiers, including three officers of the 15 Bihar infantry, were in a post barely 150 meters from the LOC.

Officials earlier dismissed the possibility saying the soldiers were well-trained to negotiate the conditions, but the Army has not been able to trace them even 48 hours after the incident.

The Army fears that the river which has narrow gorges and is strewn with boulders will be tough to negotiate even for the highly skilled and trained soldiers.

These are areas where the mountains are 15,000 feet to 18,000 feet high and this is where the two armies fought a bloody battle in 1999.

Meanwhile, frantic rescue efforts are underway in Leh and parts of Ladakh after devastating cloudburst that flattened villages, snapped power and communication links and left hundreds of people dead.

According to latest estimates, bodies of over 150 people have been retrieved so far and around 400 people are still missing.

More than one thousand people have been injured.

Rescue personnel are working round the clock, struggling through piles of slush and mud.

The Leh airport has been cleaned up and flights are operating. Nine Air Force planes have landed in the area to assist in rescue efforts.

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