The deceased were identified as Kupwara residents Ghulam Mohammad Lone (37), Mohammad Altaf Mir (25) and Bashir Ahmad Ganaie (in his thirties). Members of a larger hunting group, they were swept away by the avalanche that hit Guchibal Behak on February 24.
Officials said a 60-member joint rescue team of army, police, revenue department, health department, State Disaster Response Fund members and local residents undertook the rescue expedition amid challenging weather conditions. Sniffer dogs were employed, and Lashikote forest was turned into a base camp for the operation.
The team of at least five people had crossed a ridge in Kupwara with the intention of hunting on February 23. However, it began snowing the next day, triggering an avalanche. Only two members of the team returned.
Three soldiers were killed in an avalanche near the line of control at Machil, Kupwara, last month. On January 5, eleven people – including a two-year-old child – were killed in separate avalanches that struck the district. As many as 21 people, including 15 soldiers, died in multiple avalanches in Kashmir last January. (Agencies)