Avalanche death toll reaches 11, 1 rescued

The death toll in the snow avalanche near Sadhna Top in Tangdhar area of Kupwara district mounted to 11 after recovery 10 bodies on Saturday.

The traffic on Kupwara-Tangdhar road has been suspended till further assessment and the government has sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs four lakh each to the families of victims.

“Ten more bodies have been recovered on Saturday afternoon, taking the death toll to 11 including BRO officer MP Singh,” deputy commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jehangir told Greater Kashmir adding that one person has been rescued and he has been shifted to SKIMS for treatment.

A Tata Sumo vehicle, with seven people on board, and a group of pedestrians were hit by an avalanche near Sadhana Top Friday afternoon.

The deceased have been identified as ShekeelaBagum R/O SulimanKarnah, FareedHussain R/o Chamkote, FazilHussain Shah R/o Chamkote, Muhammad AltafChek R/o NowporaKarnah, Master Abdul Rashid JooTangdhar, ShafaqatBagum R/o GundiSeedian, GhulamHussain Shah R/o Chamkote, ChapanNissa R/o Chamkote, FareedaBano and one-year old Amina Maqbool, a resident of GundSeedian.

GhulamNabiBhat of Kalmoona, a bookseller in Tangdhar market, was rescued and he has been shifted to SKIMS for treatment. The body of a BRO officer was recovered last night after rescue operations were launched.

The rescue operations halted Friday evening because of erratic weather and foggy conditions in the area, were resumed on Saturday morning. Eyewitnesses said that hundreds of locals of Karnah, Chowkibal and adjoining areas joined the rescue teams of police, army and SDRF.

They said that rescue parties reached the spot, which is around 300 meters down the nallah, after about two hours. “It was very difficult to reach the spot,” Muhammad Maqbool Lone of Chowkibal, who was involved in rescue operations, told Greater Kashmir.

Eyewitness said that locals of Karnah and Chowkibal reached the spot before the first light. Later they were joined by two Avalanche Rescue Teams of army’s 28 Infantry Division and some teams of police and SDRF.

Reports reaching here from Tangdhar said the residents were awake for whole night. All the 10 bodies arrived in Tangdhar Saturday evening and they were buried. A pall of gloom has descended on entire Tangdhar.

The residents of Tangdhar have been demanding a tunnel to bypass the treacherous track. “The area is avalanche prone and every year casualties are reported on the stretch. A tunnel will make Tangdhar accessible throughout the year without people having to go through the risk of taking the other route,” the residents said.

Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Javaid Mustafa Mir told Greater Kashmir that he has sanctioned ex gratia relief of Rs 4 lakh under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) in favour of each of the 10 deceased. 

He said instructions have been given to DC Kupwara to release the relief immediately.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has expressed grief and sorrow over the deaths.

National Conference president Dr. Farooq Abdullah and working president Omar Abdullah have also expressed shock and grief over the loss of lives due to the avalanche.

Minister for Tourism TassaduqHussain Mufti has expressed grief over the deaths. Conveying sympathies with the bereaved families, the Minister prayed for peace to the departed souls.

(With inputs from  Peerzada Sayeed in Tangdhar)

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