Flash Floods in India's Remote Himalayan Region Kills More Than 60

Some 60 people have died and about 200 others injured in flash floods that have inundated India's mountainous Ladakh region of Indian Kashmir. Anjana Pasricha reports, the floods have caused unprecedented devastation in the remote Buddhist dominated area.

Officials say an intense nighttime downpour triggered the flooding when most residents in the Himalayan region were asleep.

The flood waters, carrying mud and debris, coursed down the mountain slopes of Ladakh, causing widespread damage in the region's main city, Leh, and surrounding villages.

Buildings, homes, power and telephone lines collapsed, vehicles were washed away and many people were trapped under the debris.

There was confusion and panic as authorities and residents were caught unawares by the unusual downpour and flooding. Ladakh, situated more than 11,000 feet above sea level, is a high altitude desert where rainfall is usually very small.

Hassan Khan, a lawmaker from the area, said the devastation was widespread.

Khan says the flood waters and the debris affected the airport runway, a hospital, the office of the state-owned telephone company, the bus stand, and a paramilitary camp. He says many small houses were buried.

Many patients had to be taken out of the main hospital in the area to other medical facilities.

The Himalayan region was virtually cut off after the flooding. Flights were suspended as soldiers tried to clear the runway. Sections of the main highways that connect to Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar, were washed away.

Soldiers have launched a massive rescue operation. The army has a heavy presence in the area, which shares a border with China.

The region is popular with tourists, who head there for high altitude adventure sports. But it has been hit by bad weather in recent days.