JHANG, Pakistan (AP) — Raging monsoon floods across India and Pakistan that have killed more than 450 people poured into the plains of eastern Punjab province on Wednesday, sending a major river over its banks and threatening to force hundreds of thousands from their homes.
The Chenab River overflowed early Wednesday, threatening the nearby Pakistani district of Jhang in the worst flooding in the region in years.
Survivor Haleema Bibi, 65, sobbed as she climbed out of a boat. Her granddaughter was to be married in the coming days but the floodwaters swept her dowry away. She appealed to the rescuers to go back to the village, saying her grandson was stranded there.
"I have lost everything," Bibi cried out.
The flooding began earlier this month in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan. It caused landslides and submerged much of the main city of Srinagar on the Indian-administered side. The water is now rushing out of the mountains of the Himalayan region, affecting communities downstream and threatening to force nearly 700,000 people from their homes.
From the air, Srinagar looked like a giant, muddy lake, with row after row of rooftops peeking out of the murky water. Frightened survivors clung to tree tops and waited for rescue helicopters to save them.
An Associated Press reporter, trapped in his home for four days, said rescue boats picked up relatives of army and government officials before saving stranded civilians.
Tempers frayed as residents grew increasingly anxious over the fate of missing loved ones. In one Srinagar neighborhood, angry survivors heckled a former government minister and fought with rescue workers.
"They are asking for bribes to rescue us," said one man, trembling with rage.
Officials said it was dangerous for rescue boats to reach some parts of the city.
"Our entire effort has been focused on ensuring that we have adequate assets to rescue people," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in an interview with CNN-IBN news channel.
The rains have washed away houses, bridges, communication equipment and crops. In a statement, Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority said that rescuers so far had evacuated more than 127,000 people. It said civil authorities and troops were using 15 helicopters and 574 boats to move flood victims to safer places.
The floods are the worst to hit Pakistan since 2010, when some 1,700 people died. Authorities say they have alerted troops in Pakistan's southern Sindh province, where flooding was expected to reach later this week.
More than 1.5 million people have been affected, with thousands losing their homes to the rising water.
"We are focusing more on women, elderly people and children," said Ahsan Ali, a rescue official in Pakistan's Jhang district.
At least 257 people have died and another 461 have been injured in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir in the flooding, while 200 have been killed in India, officials say.
Naqvi reported from New Delhi. Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report.