Torrential rains kill more than 200 in Pakistan, India

Pakistani youths play in a flooded street during monsoon rain in Lahore on Sept 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pakistani youths play in a flooded street during monsoon rain in Lahore on Sept 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pakistani workers pull out a truck from a sinkhole on a road during heavy monsoon rain in Lahore on Sept 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A Pakistani Army Mi-17 helicopter hovers as it prepares to rescue trapped residents during a flood evacuation operation on the outskirts of Islamabad on Sept 5, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Rescue workers recovering the wreckage of a bus that was swept away by flash floods in the Nowshera area of Rajouri district, some 120kms from Jammu on Sept 4, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Indian army soldiers paddle a raft as they assist Kashmiri residents during flood rescue operations on the outskirts of Srinagar on Sept 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
A Pakistani resident reacts as she stands in her partially-destroyed home following heavy monsoon rain in Lahore on Sept 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Indian residents look on towards threatened houses as waters from the overflowing Tawi river rage past in Jammu on Sept 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A temple stands amid the waters of the overflowing river Tawi during heavy rains in Jammu on Sept 6, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) - More than 200 people in Pakistan and northern India have been killed in torrential monsoon rains that triggered flooding, landslides and house collapses, officials in the two countries said on Saturday.

Troops and other emergency personnel were deployed in both countries to help with relief operations, with boats and helicopters being used to reach stranded people.

Incessant rains in Pakistan have killed at least 106 people over the past three days and damaged thousands of houses, officials said as the authorities put four districts on red alert for floods.

And in neighbouring India, torrential rains and flooding have left more than 100 people dead and marooned thousands more, according to officials.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level review meeting on Saturday and ordered acceleration of relief and rescue efforts in the country, his office said.

In worst-hit Punjab province, the death toll from rains and flooding over the past three days hit 55 while 235 people were injured, rescue services director general Rizwan Naseer, told AFP.

Another 48 people have died in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, said Mr Akram Sohail, chairman of the disaster management agency in capital Muzaffarabad.

Three soldiers also were killed in a mudslide on Thursday near the de-facto border with India, known as the Line of Control dividing disputed Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir.

Pakistan has been swept by deadly monsoon floods for the last four years - in 2013, 178 people were killed and around 1.5 million affected by flooding around the country.

Rescue workers struggled to reach remote mountain villages in Pakistan's scenic Neelum valley along the Line of Control but landslides hampered efforts.

"The landslides caused by rains have damaged 4,000 houses in Kashmir - more than half have been destroyed," Sohail said.

Hardest hit on the Indian side was Indian Kashmir, where the heaviest rains and flooding in at least half a century have claimed at least 86 lives since last Tuesday.

"The floods have caused a lot of damage," Indian Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh said after being driven around Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, by state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

"If this is the condition of city, what will be the situation in rural areas?" Mr Singh asked.

Many key roads and the lone highway linking the Kashmir region to the Indian plains were closed, communication lines and railway services disrupted, while several bridges were washed away.

Some 27 bodies were pulled from a river in the mountainous Rajouri region of south Kashmir, a senior state official said. The victims were among over 60 people aboard a bus swept into a gorge last Thursday by fast-flowing flood waters. Another 36 people on the bus remain missing.

"Apart from the bus victims, 48 people have died in flooding incidents in the Jammu region (in the south of Indian Kashmir)," said Jammu divisional commissioner Shantmanu, who uses only one name.

Another 11 people were killed in the Kashmir valley as rescuers struggled to move thousands of people stranded by floods to higher ground, officials said.

The usually slow-flowing river Jhelum, which meanders through Srinagar, is running far above the danger levels, swollen by pounding rains.

In India's Punjab state, at least 21 people died as a result of house cave-ins and landslides.

Most deaths were reported from villages near Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple Sikh shrine.

Eight members of one family died in their sleep when the roof of their dilapidated home collapsed, administration official Rohit Gupta told AFP.

In Pakistan, rescue official Naseer said waters were receding in many areas of Punjab provincial capital Lahore and other districts.

But "a red alert" has been issued in four districts - Jhelum, Sialkot, Nankana Sahib and Narowal - where the situation was still precarious, he said.

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