Seven killed, five missing in J&K after season's heaviest snowfall

Srinagar: Rescue personnel near the Jawahar Tunnel where an avalanche hit a police post on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, on Feb 8, 2019. Ten people were reported missing after the avalanche. According to the sources, search and rescue operation began shortly after the avalanche but bad weather condition has hampered the efforts. (Photo: IANS)

Srinagar (IANS) Seven people were killed and five went missing in Jammu and Kashmir following season's heaviest snowfall on Thursday.

Two people were rescued alive on Friday by relief and rescue teams from a police post that was buried under an avalanche in Jawahar Tunnel area of Jammu-Srinagar highway.

Four dead bodies have been recovered so far by the relief and rescue teams comprising police, Army and disaster relief force that started the operation in heavily snowbound area early morning.

Ten persons, including six policemen, two members of fire and emergency service and two prisoners, had gone missing in this avalanche disaster.

"Two policemen were rescued alive in an injured condition and they have been shifted to hospital. Two dead bodies were recovered earlier today (Friday) and the third dead body located some time back is in the process of being recovered," the police said.

Rescued policemen have been identified as Special Police Officers (SPOs) Gulzar Ahmad and Gulam Nabi.

Bodies of two persons killed in Ramsoo-Ramban sector of the Jammu-Srinagar highway were also recovered earlier in the day. They have been identified as Sanjit Lakra of West Bengal and Pramod Mankotia of Himachal Pradesh, police sources said.

A couple was killed while their two children were rescued after an avalanche destroyed their home in Kokernag area of Anantnag district late on Thursday.

The rescue team working near the Jawahar Tunnel has sought helicopter support to augment its efforts.

Multiple avalanches occurred at many other places in the Kashmir valley, but due to lack of communication and connectivity, the extent of casualties or damage, if any, is not yet clear.

Authorities have shifted 78 families from avalanche-prone areas of Waltangoo Nar and Kund in Kulgam district to safer places.

Seven families were shifted to the Khag police station after an avalanche hit their village in central Badgam district.

Another 20 families were shifted to safer places from Ganderbal.

Reports of seven to eight feet of fresh snowfall in the higher reaches and one to two feet in the plains in the past 24 hours indicate that this has been the heaviest snowfall of the season so far.

Hundreds of people were stranded in Jammu as the Jammu-Srinagar highway was shut for the third consecutive day after multiple avalanches and landslides hit various stretches of the 300-km-long road.

Hundreds of Kashmiris were reported to be stranded in Delhi as flight operations remained disrupted since Wednesday and were completely closed at the Srinagar international airport on Thursday.

Morning flights could not operate to and from the Srinagar airport but operations were likely to resume some time later on Friday as the weather has improved significantly.

The state government has arranged a special flight for Kashmiri students stranded in Jammu where they had gone to take the GAAT exam.

Electricity supply, water supply and road connectivity were also severely affected in the state.

Senior engineers of the electricity department said they supplied 850 MW power to the Valley on Thursday against the usual 1,200 MW requirement.

Despite these figures, most areas in the Valley and also some in Srinagar city remained without power supply in the last 36 hours.

Water supply in areas where electricity is needed to operate drinking water plants has also remained adversely affected.

Roads in Srinagar and those connecting different district headquarters have remained partially closed since Thursday. 

Restoration of all road links in Srinagar city and inter-district road connectivity was expected within Friday.

Availability of essential commodities, including food items and petroleum products, has been hit by continued closure of the strategic Janmu-Srinagar highway through which all essentials supplies are routed into the landlocked Valley.

Mutton, poultry products and vegetables have vanished from markets in Srinagar city and other places.

Alarmed by depleting stocks of petroleum products, local administration has ordered rationing of petrol and diesel till the supply position improves.

This season's snowfall has dispelled fears of water shortage in rivers, lakes, streams and springs during the coming summer months.

At the same time, the vagaries of nature have also taken their toll, causing serious hardships to the people.

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