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5 soldiers succumb; avalanche toll mounts to 25

Fresh snowfall in Kashmir, avalanche warning issued

5 soldiers succumb;  avalanche toll mounts to 25

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Jan 30: Five soldiers who were rescued from snow near the Line of Control (LoC) in Macchil sector of North Kashmir last week succumbed today taking the death toll in avalanches to 25 including 20 Army men.
Defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said that five Army soldiers, who had been trapped under snow after the caving in of track in Macchil sector on 28th January succumbed, today.
“They were rescued after a grueling day long mission and evacuated to Srinagar today despite persistent poor weather conditions, for specialist medical care. Unfortunately, all the brave hearts have succumbed to their injuries”, he said.
These soldiers were buried under snow in Macchil sector on 28th January and were rescued after several hours of rescue operation. However, Army failed to airlift them to Srinagar’s 92-Base hospital of Army due to bad weather.
Army today evacuated to Srinagar bodies of 14 soldiers who were killed in an avalanche on January 25 in Gurez. “The mortal remains of 14 Martyrs in Gurez, which could not be evacuated earlier because of inclement weather, were also brought to Srinagar today in Air Force helicopters .The mortal remains of the brave soldiers will be taken to their native places tomorrow for last rites”, he said.
Twenty five people including 20 Army men were killed in avalanches after heavy snowfall in Kashmir last week.
The Weatherman has forecast fresh snowfall in Kashmir and administration here issued fresh avalanche warning for hills of Kashmir. It was snowing and raining in parts of Kashmir this evening.
“We are expecting light to moderate snowfall for the next 24 hours starting from today evening and will continue through tomorrow,” Director of local Meteorological department, Sonam Lotus said here. He said that plains will receive light to moderate snowfall while as higher reaches will receive moderate snowfall. “After Tuesday weather will remain dry for some days. Then again from February 4-5, higher reaches of Kashmir will receive heavy snowfall while plains will receive light to moderate snowfall,” he said.
The divisional administration Kashmir today issued a fresh medium danger avalanche warning for next 24-hours for hilly and avalanche prone areas of Kashmir valley and Kargil district.
“Medium danger avalanche warning valid for next 24-hours from January 30 to January 31, 2017 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Anantnag and Kargil districts”,  a statement of the divisional administration said.
“There is forecast of isolated rains and snowfall from January 31 to February 2 and scattered rain/snow on February 3,” the statement added.
The Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division including Leh and Kargil have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas and to keep clearing snow depositions from roof tops of their houses and bunkers to avoid damages.
SSP Traffic Rural Kashmir, Fayaz Ahmad Lone told Excelsior that traffic will ply from Jammu to Srinagar tomorrow. He said that 4288 vehicles including 1780 LMVs, 2110 trucks, 232 tankers, 46 buses and 120 other vehicles crossed towards Jammu today.
“Keeping in view the condition of the road, especially between Udhampur -Ramsoo and Banihal to Levdora (Qazigund) coupled with narrow width of road at certain places, only one way movement of traffic is feasible/advisable on Srinagar- Jammu NHW”, Lone said.
“As such subject to fair weather and good condition of road tomorrow on 31.01.2017 movement of traffic shall be allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar side in a regulated manner. Movement of LMVs/passenger vehicles/Tankers shall be allowed from Nagrota (Jammu) from 0500 hours up to 1100 hours and from Udhampur up to 1300 hours only. However, the movement of HMVs (excluding Trailers/multi-axle vehicles) including convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Nagrota (Jammu) from 0600 hours up to1000 hours and from Udhampur up to 1230 hours only. No vehicle shall be allowed from the above TCPs after the prescribed cut off timing under any circumstances. All the officers of Traffic wing deployed on the NHW shall ensure proper co-ordination in regulating the traffic to avoid any confusion”, he said.
“No movement of traffic including that of convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu side on 31.01.2017 under any circumstances to avoid hassle free movement of traffic. All the DySPs/DTI’s/SO’s Traffic are directed to ensure that vehicles are not parked in any landslide/avalanche/vulnerable zones of NHW especially from Ramsoo – Jawahar Tunnel – Levdora under any circumstances. All the vulnerable/avalanche prone zones should be kept free from any kind of traffic to avoid any eventuality”, he said.
A police spokesman said that police provided its helping hand by clearing roads in Bandipora which were blocked due to heavy snowfall.
He said that Bandipora police received an information that the road from Chuntimohalla to Kudara is blocked due to heavy snowfall.  The people of the area were distressed and the vehicles were stranded. Bandipora police cleared the snow from the road and the vehicles started plying on the road.
Meanwhile, Governor N N Vohra has expressed grief on learning that 5 soldiers, who were rescued on 28th January from an avalanche in Machhil Sector, Kupwara district, have died.
The Governor spoke to Lt. Gen Devraj Anbu, Northern Army Commander and Lt General J S Sandhu, GOC XV Corps, to convey his condolences to the bereaved families.

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