Snow shuts Kashmir

Weather To Improve On Saturday: Met Office

MUDDASIR ALI/KHALID GUL

Srinagar/Anantnag, Dec 30: Kashmir Valley woke up to a thick blanket of snow on Thursday as winter entered full bloom with heavy snowfall continuing from early morning, throwing the life out of gear.
The change in weather forced suspension of all kinds of traffic- surface as well as air- to and from the Valley to outside world even as weatherman forecast more snowy days ahead. Government summoned administrative heads of all districts and top authorities of different departments in Kashmir to take stock of the situation and preparedness in case of any eventuality.
The snowfall during December, coinciding with period of Chillai Kalan, has occurred after many years, and the accumulation is expected to last long—a good sign for the next crop season.
Snowfall would continue tomorrow, said weatherman. “It was snowing in all districts of the Valley today. The situation will improve after January 1,” said Director, Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus.
The precipitation which had started early Wednesday evening grew heavier by this morning with all the districts of the Valley, especially those in South Kashmir, receiving heavy snowfall.
Much to the delight of tourists and winter sports loving people, the famous tourist resorts including Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Yusmarg received around two-feet of snow till late evening.
The summer capital, Srinagar, received moderate to heavy snowfall, bringing children and youth out on roads at many places to enjoy the precipitation. “We are praying for more snowfall. Like every year we plan to make snowman and construct tunnels out of snow,” said Arsalan, while enjoying snowfall with his friends at Bagh-e-Mehtab.
The scene of snow falling on the surface of Dal Lake was a treat for the eyes with local and foreign tourists rushing to the spot. “It (scene) is awesome. We have decided to stay put for some more days in Kashmir. We will be visiting Gulmarg for skiing,” said a foreign couple at the banks of Dal Lake. At many places youth had hurdled around bonfires to warm themselves.
While Islamabad received more than 1-feet snow, the downpour continued in other districts of south Kashmir including Kulgam and Pulwama. However, Shopian received more than two and a half feet of snow. Heavy snowfall caused damage to orchards in Shopian and Kulgam, reports said
“Simthan Top near Kishtwar received almost 5-feet of snow while as thickness of snow was two to three feet in Daksum, Aharbal and Kokernag.”
Five residential houses got damaged due to snowfall in various areas of South Kashmir. These included two houses in Sallar and one each in Pahalgam, Bijbehara and Dooru.
North Kashmir received comparatively less snowfall and its thickness varied from four inches to eight inches in different districts like Varmul, Bandipora and Kupwara.
Due to slippery conditions a Tata Sumo skidded off the road and fell into Nallah at Nowshera near Uri. Two persons were injured in the accident. Efforts are on to remove around 50 vehicles stranded at Kawnar on Gulmarg-Tangmarg road, said Coordinator Disaster Management Cell, Kashmir, Amir Ali.
The upper areas of Budgam district including Pakherpora, Kanidajan, and main town of Charar-i-Sharief received around 1-feet of snow. The downpour remained moderate in Budgam town and nearby villages.
The divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon took a review meeting of the situation this afternoon and directed authorities concerned to take steps to ensure safety of stranded passengers, Ali said.
The administration deployed snow clearance machines for various places including Kokernag-Larnoo road, and different roads in Ganderbal and different roads in Sopur. The machines were also deployed for 14 different routes in Srinagar including Airport road and more than six roads in Budgam.
Providing details about snowfall, Ali said the thickness of snow at various places across Valley varied from 4 inches to 18 inches.
Meanwhile, according to Director Information Khawaja Farooq Renzu Shah the Government machinery was activated fully to tackle the situation arising due to snowfall. He said the junior minister for housing Nasir Aslam Wani immediately rushed to Srinagar to monitor the situation.

STRANDED TOURISTS RESCUED
Police and locals rescued the tourists who were stranded on the Tangamarg-Gulmarg road after heavy snowfall on Wednesday evening.
Reports said hundreds of vehicles with tourists on board were stranded while returning from Gulmarg after heavy snowfall. However, police swung into action and launched a massive operation to rescue the stranded tourists on Tangmarg-Gulmarg highway.
A police team led by the SDPO Gulmarg and the Station House Officers of Gulmarg and Tangmarg respectively sought help of the locals to carry the rescue operation.
Despite heavy snowfall, the rescue operation carried on till 1 am. “The drivers of the tourist vehicles could not drive downhill due to continuous snowfall and slippery conditions. Later police sought the help of local drivers who are experts in downhill driving, to drive the vehicles with tourists on board to Tangmarg,” the locals told Greater Kashmir.
According to police, no vehicle without chains will be allowed to proceed to Gulmarg in view of heavy snowfall.
“The tourists should prefer four by four vehicles or with strong chains to pass smoothly on the accumulated snow,” it said.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 31 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST




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