50 missing after bus swept away in flooding

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A bus carrying more than 50 wedding guests was swept away in a flooded stream in the Indian-held sector of Kashmir and all but three of the passengers are missing, officials said.

Police officer Rajesh Kumar said the three swam to safety and told rescuers that about 50 others were trapped in the bus.

The search effort to find the bus was hampered by landslides and heavy rains which blocked access to the area yesterday, Mr Kumar said.

Officials earlier said the bus was carrying about 70 people. “There is a lot of confusion,” Mr Kumar said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the bride and bridegroom were among the missing people who were returning home from a wedding ceremony in a village in the Rajouri region.

The region’s wedding season has been disrupted by heavy rains and the worst floods in 22 years, and many ceremonies have been postponed.

At least 18 people have died in the past two days, and authorities have closed schools and stopped train services in the Kashmir valley.

Meteorologists said the heavy rains were likely to continue for another two days.

The 18 victims were swept away by floodwaters or buried by mud from mountain slopes – 14 in the Jammu region and four in the Kashmir valley. They included a paramilitary officer whose bunker collapsed on him.

Soldiers and rescue workers used boats to move thousands of people to higher ground. At least 100 villages across the Kashmir valley were flooded by overflowing lakes and rivers.

Landslides and floods are common in India during the monsoon season, which runs from June through September.

Parts of Srinagar were also flooded.