Heavy snowfall; 10 ft in Bangus, 9 in Tulail, 5.6 ft in Gulmarg

Fayaz Bukhari

Beacon camp under snow at Gagangeer near avalanche site in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal district on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Shakeel
Beacon camp under snow at Gagangeer near avalanche site in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal district on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Shakeel

SRINAGAR, Jan 25: Five persons including an Army officer and four of a family were killed as avalanches struck Kashmir following heavy snowfall in North and parts of Central Kashmir with divisional administration issuing fresh avalanche warnings. The snowfall cut off Kashmir from rest of the country with National Highway closed and Air traffic suspended from Srinagar Airport.
In Sonamarg area of Central Kashmir district of Ganderbal an avalanche struck at Territorial Army camp of 115 battalion burying several Army personnel including an Army officer.
A rescue operation was launched immediately and at least 7 Army personnel were rescued but Major Amit Sagar who was also buried under snow when avalanche struck his residence was found dead.
In Bandipora, a house came under an avalanche at Badugam in Tulail area of Gurez in Bandipora, leading to death of four persons of a family including two children. The dead have been identified as Habibullah Lone son of Bahadur Lone, his wife Azizee Begum, daughter Gulshana and son Irfan Ahmad Lone residents of Badugam. Police retrieved the bodies and handed them over to their relatives for last rites.
A ration store was hit by an avalanche in Gurez area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district today. A ration store was completely damaged after an avalanche struck it in Buglindar village in Tulail area of Gurez. However, no loss of life was reported.
One person identified as Abdul Gani Ganaie son of Ghulam Ahmad Ganaie resident of Kralpora fell from the roof top of a residential house belonging to Abdul Jabbar Ganaie in Kralpora area of Kupwara when it got collapsed due to snow, resulting in his on the spot death. The house owner was injured and was shifted to hospital for treatment.
Two residential houses were partially damaged due to snowfall in Ladoora village of Rafiabad in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district today. However, the family members were evacuated safely.
In Srinagar, a residential house belonging to Arshida resident of Panthachowk came under a sliding boulder, resulting in damage to the house.
The avalanches in Kashmir struck at various places in the hilly areas after heavy snowfall since yesterday. Gulmarg received 5.6 feet, Tangmarg 3 feet, Baba Reshi 4 feet, Kunzar 2 feet, Pattan 10 inches, Chandoosa 2.9 feet, Boniyar 2 feet, Baramulla 21inches, Macchil 3 feet, Z-Gali 3.6 feet, Keran 2.6 feet, Furkiyan 3.6 feet, Karah one feet, Sadna 3.6 feet, Kupwara 2 feet, Lalpora 2.6 feet, Sogam 2.6 feet, Kralpora2 feet, Handwara 1.6 feet, Zachaldara 2.6 feet, Wudar Bala 3 feet, Kalamabad 2 feet, Mawar 3.6 feet, Nowgam 4 feet, Bangus 10 feet, Gurez 7 feet, Razdhan Pass 9 feet, Tulail 9 feet, Bandipora 9 inches, Sopore 14 inches, Bomai 16 inches, Panzulla 2.6 feet, Dangiwacha 2.6 feet, Upper reaches of Sopore 4 feet, Beerwah 20 inches, Khag 3 feet, Sonamarg 2 feet and Srinagar 4 inches of snowfall.
After fresh and heavy snowfall, the divisional administration Kashmir today issued a high danger avalanche warning for next 24 hours beginning from today for avalanche prone areas in Kashmir division.
“High danger avalanche warning valid for next 24-hours from January 25 to January 26, 2017 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche prone slopes above 2800 meter altitude in Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam and Budgam districts” a statement of the divisional administration said.
“The Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir division including Leh and Kargil have been asked to advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas and to keep clearing snow depositions from roof tops of their houses to avoid damages”, the warning said.
The statement issued by divisional administration said that higher reaches of Kashmir, Ladakh and hilly areas of Jammu are likely to receive heavy snowfall during the period. “This may lead to closure of National Highway and disruption of surface and air transport. Further, movement in snowbound hilly and sloppy areas is not advisable during next 28 to 72 hours. Moderate to heavy rain/snow is predicted at widespread places of the State during the next 24 hours”, the statement said.
The Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir division including Leh and Kargil have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts.
The snowfall cut off Kashmir from rest of the country with surface and air links between the Kashmir valley and rest of country suspended today.
Due to snowfall main roads here and other district headquarters were cleared in the morning, but reports from rural areas said link roads remained closed due to snow accumulation.
Fresh snowfall has also disrupted inter-district road connectivity between Srinagar and other district headquarters.
All flights to and from the Srinagar International Airport also remained suspended today due to poor visibility.
Closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway has promoted unscrupulous traders to increase prices of essentials especially vegetables and pulses.
In the meantime, Police launched a rescue operation in Bandipora and rescued 25 families to safer places. Besides, J&K Police rescued two pregnant ladies in Shalkot and Judinambal areas of Sopore and shifted them to hospital for treatment.
In view of the heavy snowfall and apprehension of snow avalanche in Khadiyall and Ismarg areas of Gurez Bandipora, Jammu and Kashmir Police launched a rescue operation and rescued 10 families consisting of 70 members in Khaidyal and shifted them to Dawar Gurez. In Ismarg 15 families consisting of 80 members were rescued and shifted to safer place in Kanzalwal in the jurisdiction of Police Station Gurez.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Police launched a rescue operation in Sopore after they received an information that two pregnant ladies are stranded in their homes in Shalkot and Judinambal areas due to heavy snowfall. On receiving this information, SDPO Rafiaabad along with SHO Panzla constituted a team. The team cleared the snow on the roads and both the ladies were shifted to Sub District Hospital Rohama for treatment. However, one of the ladies gave birth to the child while on way to hospital.
In Kupwara, vehicles were stranded and skidding on roads due to heavy snowfall. Kupwara police cleared the snow and helped the vehicles to go through.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has expressed grief over the deaths caused due to snow avalanches and house collapse incidents across the State due to heavy snowfall.
The Chief Minister has asked the divisional administrations of Kashmir and Jammu to remain alert and provide all help and assistance to people in these difficult times. She has also directed the administration to ensure on time clearance of snow and ensure availability of other services to people.
Mehbooba has directed all the Deputy Commissioners and District SPs of the Kashmir valley districts to monitor situation in their respective areas round the clock and extend all help to stranded people, infirm and patients. She has also directed them to personally supervise snow clearance operations and restoration of essential services in their areas on war footing.
The Chief Minister has also directed the Deputy Commissioners to make alternate arrangements for people who houses were damaged during the heavy snow and extend all help to them.
Deputy Speaker, Legislative Assembly, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi has also condoled the demise of four persons who died when an avalanche hit village Budugam in Gurez valley of Bandipora district following heavy snowfall in the area.
In his condolence message, the Deputy Speaker expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls.
He thanked the administration, police and Army for launching immediate rescue operation in the area to recover the bodies of the deceased. He asked the district administration Bandipora to remain vigilant following the avalanche warning for higher reaches of the Valley.
The Deputy Speaker also asked SDM Gurez to process the ex-gratia cases in favor of the next of kin of the deceased immediately.
The Deputy Speaker also directed the revenue authorities to visit Chorwon village of Gurez and take stock of the damages due to a fire incident which occurred in the village yesterday. He also asked them to assess the loss of property damaged due to fire incident and process cases of fire sufferers for relief and compensation.
Gurezi urged the Government for early release of ex-gratia relief in favour of NoK of avalanche victims. He also urged the Government for providing necessary relief and compensation in favour of Chorwan fire victims.