Snow Woes, Highway Blues| Death toll in J&K avalanches reaches 9

The death toll in avalanches which hit Kashmir areas a day earlier reached 9 on Thursday, even as authorities issued a fresh warning, valid for 24 hours, for people living in avalanche-prone areas of the state.
Snow Woes, Highway Blues| Death toll in J&K avalanches reaches 9
Photo: Mir Waseem/GK

The death toll in avalanches which hit Kashmir areas a day earlier reached 9 on Thursday, even as authorities issued a fresh warning, valid for 24 hours, for people living in avalanche-prone areas of the state.

Massive avalanches and landslides hit Jawahar tunnel area of Kulgam district and Kokernag area in Anantnag district on Thursday evening following heavy snowfall and rains in the preceding 24 hours.

Director general of police Dilbag Singh said of 10 persons buried under snow avalanche at Jawahar tunnel, seven bodies were recovered, two persons rescued alive while one is still missing.

The rescue operation has been suspended for the night and will be re-started on Saturday, he said.

The police chief said they will help the next of kin of the victims under norms.

Six policemen, two fire and emergency services personnel and two prisoners, accused in a case, went missing after a massive avalanche hit a fire station post near the Jawahar tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Thursday evening.

In view of an avalanche threat, a police post at Jawahar tunnel was shifted to the fire station, which, however, was buried under the avalanche.

The deceased were identified as Fayaz Ahmad Parrey, selection grade fireman; driver (fire services) Firdous Ahmad; constable Arshad Gul; head constables Muzaffar and Shabnam; and Vikram Singh, son of Kalvender Singh of Salan Talab Udhampur and Baljeet Singh, son of Hari Singh, of Dera Baba Nanak Gurdaspore Punjab.

Those rescued alive were identified as special police official Muhammad Khalil, and SPO Ghulam Nabi, according to officials.

The missing policeman is selection grade constable, Parvez Ahmad, according to officials.

"Rescuers cut through mounds of snow to reach the place where they were trapped," a police officer said, giving details about the rescue operation.

He said the policemen had taken shelter in the fire station because it had not been damaged in the past avalanches in the mountainous area, where landslides are a routine otherwise.

HUSBAND-WIFE DUO KILLED IN KOKERNAG

In Kokernag area in southern Anantnag district, a husband-wife duo was killed when a powerful avalanche hit their house in Sandradi Magam village, officials said.

The house-owner Bashir Ahmad Qureshi was declared dead on Thursday evening while his wife Roshan Begum continued to remain trapped under snow.

An official said a rescue team tried hard to rescue Begum alive, but couldn't. Her body was also recovered later.

Earlier, officials said they rescued two of the family members.

Pertinently, dozens of people were evacuated from high-risk areas following heavy snowfall which disrupted power and communication systems—apart from traffic—in Kashmir, cutting off the Valley from rest of the world.

A divisional administration official said multiple avalanches occurred in Kashmir areas due to heaviest snowfall yet this season.

Around 90 families were evacuated to safer places from avalanche-prone areas of Waltangoo Nar and Kund areas in southern Kulgam district, an official said, adding that some families were also evacuated in Khag area of Budgam district.

In January, 10 labourers were killed when an avalanche hit Khardungla top in Ladakh region. The rescuers took about a week to retrieve all the bodies.

FRESH AVALANCHE WARNING

Meanwhile, the divisional authorities Friday issued a fresh avalanche warning for avalanche-prone districts of Kashmir and Jammu divisions.

A high-level warning was issued for avalanche-prone areas of Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and Ganderbal districts for next 24 hours, while a medium-level warning was issued for Pooonch, Rajouri, Reasi, Ramban, Doda , Kishtwar, Udhampur and Kargil districts, for the same period.

2 TRAVELLERS KILLED IN RAMBAN

Bodies of two travelers, both non locals, were recovered in landslide and shooting stone-prone areas at Anokifall (Battary Chasma) and Maroog areas along the Srinagar-Jammu highway late Thursday evening, officials said.

The police said they received information about two bodies lying at Maroog and Anokhfall.

A team comprising police and quick response teams from the civil administration was sent to the area to recover the bodies.

"It is presumed that both have died after getting injured by shooting stones," a police official said, identifying the deceased as Parmod Singh Mankotia and Sanjit Lakra.

Parmod, son of Harbans Singh, a resident of Kangra Himachal Pardesh, was a central government employee working in the accountant general's office in Srinagar, while Lakra, son of Sudhir, was working with a private company and hailed from Alipur, West Bengal.

Police have registered a case and started investigations, station house officer, Ramban police station, said.

He said one Raj Kumar Sahil son of late Amar Nath, a resident of Pathankot, was rescued by a rescue team from Anokhifall. He was admitted to district hospital Ramban.

Senior superintendent of police Ramban, Anita Sharma told Greater Kashmir that after performing legal-medico formalities and carrying out identifications, the relatives of the deceased persons have been intimated through their counterparts in West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh, about the incidents.

(With MM Parvez in Ramban)

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