Why Rescue Efforts Have Been Delayed In 'Superflood'

The severe flooding in India and Pakistan has been wreaking havoc on locals for nearly a week now. Why has relief to the area been so delayed?
Posted at 11:47 AM, Sep 10, 2014

Heavy monsoon rainfall and raging "superflood" waters across India and Pakistan have claimed the lives of hundreds of people and left hundreds of thousands more stranded or displaced.

Many have been trapped without food for days by water up to 6 feet deep in homes, hospitals, hotels, schools and on highways. (Video via BBC)

And some are even waiting on rooftops for passing helicopters to see them and carry them to safety. (Video via Euronews)

It's been nearly a week since the devastating flooding began, and even though the rain has stopped, the floodwaters are continuing to rise in what some are calling the worst floods in a generation.

So what's taking search-and-rescue operations so long to get to these stranded victims?

Officials say the scale of the disaster itself is partly to blame for delayed rescue efforts. The BBC reports the death toll in the two countries breached 450 Wednesday. 400,000 people were stranded in Indian-administered Kashmir alone.

But the Times of Oman reports only about 77,000 people have been safely evacuated from India so far. The outlet quotes the police inspector of the Jammu region in India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

"The situation in Kashmir Valley is still very grim; it is quite critical. ... I don't know how many, exactly, but there are many stuck in neck-deep water and need help as soon as possible."

Thousands of homes have been destroyed by flooding and subsequent landslides, and the rains have washed away buildings, bridges, communication equipment and crops. (Video via Al Jazeera)

The New York Times points out perhaps one of the biggest issues hindering the relief effort has been a collapse in communication. A commanding officer with India's National Disaster Response Force told the outlet the lack of communication has hampered emergency responders and separated families.

Over the weekend, water damaged telephone and mobile phone links across the two countries. The Indian army reportedly airlifted communication equipment to restore some communication links Monday. (Video via NDTV)

But even though these setbacks seem unavoidable, many locals are blaming Indian and Pakistani officials for failing to properly handle the disaster.

That blame has turned violent in recent days. Indian news channel NDTV tweeted early Wednesday that some rescue workers were even attacked by locals who wanted emergency responders to focus their attention on other hard-hit areas.

And an independent filmmaker based in New Delhi told Time attempts to organize private relief efforts are being derailed by authorities. "In Delhi, most of us are focused on raising awareness, organizing relief and gathering supplies. The biggest challenge we are facing is the lack of communication from the state."

Wednesday an unidentified official from India's National Disaster Response Force said the agency knew heavy rains were in the forecast, but it wasn't forewarned of any flash floods by the Central Water Commission. (Video via CNN)

Officials say even though the rains have stopped, the floodwaters are likely to swallow hundreds more villages in the coming days. Nearly 80 planes and helicopters have reportedly been deployed to the area.