Indian papers highlight social media's role in Kashmir flood rescue

The army's has scaled up its rescue work as flood waters recede Image copyright AP
Image caption The army has scaled up its rescue work as flood waters recede

Media in India are highlighting the role of social media websites in reaching out to people stranded in the flood-hit parts of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Around 200 people have died since last week in the worst floods to have hit the state in decades.

More than 400,000 people are still stranded in the affected areas as rescue efforts continue on Wednesday.

Papers say the floods have caused massive damages to communication and road infrastructure, making it difficult for rescue teams to reach out to those marooned in remote areas

In the absence of phone lines and power supply, social media updates from outside and inside the state are playing a major role in tracing people trapped in the flood-hit areas.

Kashmiris living in other parts of India are posting details about their stranded relatives on various flood-related social media accounts.

"Social media plugs disaster mgmt [management] holes," reads a banner headline in the Hindustan Times.

The paper says social media has become the "most reliable" tool to inform rescue teams about the location of the stranded people.

"Facebook and Twitter have served as sounding boards for panic-stricken people desperate for information," it adds.

The Indian army is also using the social media to save the lives of people.

The army is passing on messages received on its website, Facebook page and Twitter handle to senior commanders on a WhatsApp group who then forward them to ground troops, the DNA newspaper reports.

Image copyright Indian Army
Image caption The army's Facebook page is giving regular updates on its rescue operation in the state

The troops rescued a pregnant woman stranded on the third floor of a building in Srinagar through "distress calls" received on WhatsApp and Facebook, it adds.

Officials at the National Disaster Response Force also said that they had been able to reach out to people through social media.

Rescue officials said they have received over 450 distress messages in the last two days through WhatsApp and text messages from people stranded in various parts of Kashmir, the NDTV website reports.

From Wednesday, people can also use a Google application to find out the status of missing persons, the CNN-IBN website reports.

The application, called "Person Finder", will allow people to post and search the whereabouts of their relatives or friends affected by the disaster, it adds.

Poll impact

Meanwhile, papers feel the state administration's "unpreparedness" in dealing with the crisis may have an impact on the assembly elections scheduled for later this year.

"With the assembly elections round the corner, any deficiency in confronting this challenge will not go down well with the voters. Hopefully, the under-performing Omar Abdullah government is aware of this reality," says an editorial in the Hindustan Times.

The Deccan Herald echoes similar sentiments.

"In a few months from now, Jammu and Kashmir will go to the polls. Political parties will be tempted to use the issue of the rescue/relief efforts to score points over their rivals. Politicising a calamity is in poor taste and parties need to refrain from dividing people on the question of relief measures," it says.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites