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On the afternoon of September 4, two days before Jammu and Kashmir was ravaged by its worst floods in more than 50 years, three hydrological stations on the Jhelum river, which runs through the valley, had detected that serious danger was lurking. Less than 50 km upstream of Srinagar, the Sangam station, operated by the Central Water Commission (CWC), indicated that water levels had risen from 5.7 m on September 3 to 10.13 m on September 4. That's more than the height of a storey in a regular house.

The knock-on effect was swift and the alarming rise in water levels was soon detected by two other CWC stations.

Nearer the capital, the Ram Munshi Bagh hydrological station registered a jump of more than 3 m in the water level between the afternoons of September 3 and 4. Further downstream, the Safapora hydrological station also recorded readings of a similar jump in the same period .

The information provided by these three stations should have set alarm bells ringing within the state administration which should have then prepared itself for a major flood hitting the area. It could have provided a 24-hour window to evacuate people from lowlying areas, deploy special response teams and to arrange for rationing supplies. Except that none of this happened.

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