Kupwara avalanche: Death toll mounts to nine; one still missing

Bodies of nine missing passengers have been recovered so far in ongoing rescue operation launched by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and army near high-altitude Sadhna top on Karnah road in frontier district of Kupwara, said a senior police officer on Saturday.

He said a passenger is still missing and efforts are on to trace him out.

Eight passengers went missing on Friday after a snow avalanche swept away a passenger cab they were travelling in.

Two more passengers (from another vehicle), standing on the road, also came under the avalanche and were pushed down into a deep gorge, officials said.

“Nine bodies have been recovered so far. Efforts are on to trace out the last passenger, whose chances of survival are bleak,” Shamsher Hussain, Superintendent of Police Kupwara told Greater Kashmir over phone from the site of the mishap.

A passenger, identified by the police, as Ghulam Nabi Bhat (50), a resident of Kulmoona village, was rescued alive today.

He was immediately referred to Srinagar for advanced treatment in wee hours, health officials said.

The bodies of passengers will be sent to their native Karnah town soon, Hussian said, adding that locals from Karnah assisted police in carrying out rescue operation in difficult mountainous terrain.

A high intensity avalanche pushed the passenger cab into a 400-feet deep gorge around 3 PM Friday, leaving behind bare chances of their survival.

The cab was on way to border town Karnah in this border district.

At least four to five feet snow has accumulated near the Sadhna top, which usually witnesses heavy snowfall during winters, officials said.

As reported earlier, driver of vehicle JK09-A 3249, Zahoor Ahmad, and a 8- year-old boy, Suliman, both residents of Karnah tehsil, were rescued immediately after the mishap occurred around 3.30 PM Friday.

A beacon officer of 109, RCC, identified as M P Singh, a resident of Varansi district of Uttar Pradesh was killed after he was swept away by the avalanche.

The officer was on the road clearance duty, when the avalanche struck, officials said.

The 75-Kms long only surface link connecting border town Karnah with Kupwara usually remains closed for at least three months during winters due to heavy snowfall.

However this winter season, the road is through for traffic after a few days of closure in mid-December following snowfall.

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