Hundreds of Israelis stranded in India appeal for rescue
Some 500 Israelis stranded in flood-stricken Ladakh with no roads, flights or means of communication.
Hundreds of Israelis stranded in the Ladakh region of Indian-administered Kashmir following severe flooding contacted the Israel Travel Agents' Association on Sunday asking to be rescued from the disaster-stricken area.
Floods and landslides across Asia plunged millions into misery Sunday as rubble-strewn waters killed at least 127 in northwestern China and 4 million Pakistanis faced food shortages amid their country's worst-ever flooding.
In Indian-controlled Kashmir, rescuers raced to find 500 people still missing in flash floods that have already killed 132, while North Korea's state media said high waters had destroyed thousands of homes and damaged crops.
Israeli reports indicate that "the number of victims is much higher than the numbers reported in the media," and that "all the roads to the area have been blocked and all the communications systems have collapsed."
The travel agents issued a statement saying that it was utilizing all of its contacts in India and in other places in the world in efforts to rescue the stranded Israelis.
Yossi Fattal, the head of the Israel Travel Agents Association, told Haaretz that some 500 Israelis have made contact by way of a Jewish organization operating in India. There is no word of any Israeli victims.
All the roads leading to the city of Leh, where the Israelis are congregated, have been irreparably destroyed. The only way out of the city is by plane. There is one daily flight out and it is entirely populated by victims of the flood in need of care.
Fattal said that the Israelis in Leh have asked for an organized flight to take them to New Delhi.
"We've approached our contacts in India in efforts to examine the possibility of organizing a special flight for Israelis," Fattal said. "It would have to be a local airline because El Al doesn't fly to New Delhi at all, only to Mumbai. At this point it is only talk, it is Sunday now and it is nighttime. They won't be able to get out in the coming days anyway."
The Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning against visiting the entire region.
"There is no electricity at all in the entire area," an Israeli tourist, Elyashiv Farber, told Haaretz. "The airport is blocked due to rockslides and it is not yet clear whether the runways are intact." He explained that there was almost no one to talk to and the authorities were not supplying any solutions, but he knew that the army was making efforts to unblock roads.