2 die, 6 hurt as rain, landslides create havoc; NH, Kishtwar road closed, 1500 vehicles stranded

Jammu-Srinagar National Highway blocked due to landslides near Mehar in Ramban on Saturday. More pics on page 6. —Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir
Jammu-Srinagar National Highway blocked due to landslides near Mehar in Ramban on Saturday. More pics on page 6. —Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir

400 structures damaged in windstorm, avalanche warning issued

Gopal Sharma/
Fayaz Bukhari

JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Mar 2: Two persons were killed while about half a dozen were injured and over 400 structures damaged as heavy rain, wind and hailstorm created havoc across Jammu and Kashmir while at least 1500 vehicles were stranded as Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road remained blocked due to massive landslides at several places since last night.

Hailstorm in Jammu, Samba and Kathua belt caused massive damage to the crops while the chopper service and battery car operation at Katra Mata Vaishnodevi remained suspended due to constant rain and bad weather whereas, the on-foot pilgrimage remained in progress despite rain on Saturday.
With the fresh snowfall in the hilly areas and hailstorm and rain in the region, a sharp fall in the temperature has been witnessed. The streams and nallahs were flooded at several places while dozens of landslides blocked highways and inter-district and link roads. Jammu city witnessed heavy rain of the season during this evening. The drains, lanes and roads were flooded with water, affecting smooth movement of traffic.
While Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has been blocked at least at dozen places between Nashri Tunnel, Ramban and Banihal, Batote-Doda-Kishtwar, Reasi-Mahore-Budhal, Basohli-Bani, Udhampur-Pancheri- Ladda and several other roads were blocked. More than 1500 vehicles were reported to have been stranded on Jammu-Srinagar Highway and Batote Doda-Kishrwar road since last evening.
“Over 150 houses and some school buildings were fully/partially damaged in district Ramban with windstorm since last night in the district,” Deputy Commissioner Ramban, Baseer-ul-Haq said.
He said majority of the damage has been reported from tehsil Khari, Banihal, Gool and Batote area. The Revenue and police teams were deputed to the affected areas to assess the losses, he added.
Over 200 structures were damaged in gusty winds accompanied by heavy rainfall in Kashmir today while the hills including ski-resort Gulmarg received snowfall for the second day today.
An official said that 119 houses were damaged in four Tehsils of the districts including 95 in Tehsil DH Pora, 6 in Devsar, 9 each in Kulgam and Pahaloo.
He said that in the Verinag area of Anantnag district, 42 structures were damaged due to gusty winds while 47 were damaged in Dooru Tehsil and around 15 in Qazigund Tehsil.
Dozens of structures were also damaged in Shopian and Pulwama districts in the gusty winds.
Reports from Doda said that one Suniksha Devi, wife of Pardeep Singh a resident of Bhatmas Changa in Bhalesa, died and her brother injured when the ceiling of their house collapsed due to a windstorm in Doda district.
At least 10 other houses suffered damages in Gandoh tehsil of Doda district, and 15 more houses and other structures were damaged by windstorm in Trigam, Palmar, Mughal Maidan and adjoining areas in nearby Kishtwar district, officials said.
An official said at least 15 structures have been affected in Kishtwar district. One house was fully damaged while 5 Kacha houses were severely damaged  besides one cattleshed. Two commercial establishments were damaged in Tehsil Kishtwar.
Two Kacha houses in Tehsil Mughal Maidan, one Kacha house in Tehsil Dachhan, and one house in Tehsil Chatroo have been partially damaged. No loss of life has been reported so far. The affected families have been promptly relocated to nearby safe places and accommodated by administration.
Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar, Dr Devansh Yadav assured  that the Red Cross team is actively engaged in delivering relief materials and necessary support to those affected. In view of the situation, the public is advised against unnecessary travel to vulnerable spots.
Reports from Kathua said that four houses were partially damaged and road between Basohli and Bani also remained blocked due to rain and landslides. Two link roads in thew area were also blocked and power supply was also hit.
In Ramban area also power supply to Gool, Khari and Banihal area was snapped due to fault in 133 KV line after wind storm.
An oil tanker driver was killed when he lost control and crashed his vehicle into a hillside amid heavy rain near Moud Passi in Udhampur district last night.
Six people were injured when a boulder from a hillock hit a passenger bus (Jk02AK/ 2186) at Manore Gala in Kotranka area of Rajouri district.
They said the mini-bus was on its way from Mandir Gala to Rajouri and the injured passengers were rushed to local hospital. Later, they were shifted to GMC Hospital Rajouri.
A Madrasa was also damaged when a tree fell on its building in Batote area of Ramban today. However, no loss of life or injury to any one was reported.
Reports of fresh snowfall have been reported from the higher reaches of the region. About two to three feet snowfall was reported in high altitude areas including Pir Ki Gali in Poonch, Sinthan top in Kishtwar, Chatergala in Bhaderwah over the past 24 hours.
Reports from Poonch said that as predicted by MeT  department, there was heavy rainfall, windstorm in the plains and snowfall in the higher reaches of Poonch district today.
Many residential houses in Uripura, Sawjian, Chaprian, Balnai area of Tehsil Mandi, two houses and a school building in Haveli Tehsil, one house and cattle shed in Surankote and one kacha house in Mendhar were partially damaged, while landslide hit Mandi- Phagla road, Loran, Gali Pindi and Chakrara areas in Mandi due which roads were closed for some time which were later restored.
Tehsildar Haveli, Azhar Majid, Tehsildar Mandi, Aashaq Hussain, Tehsidar Surankote, Akber Hussain and Tehsildar Mendhar Rahul Basotra when contacted said that the details of damages to residential houses or other buildings are being received and compiled, the tin sheets of roof of some houses have been uprooted and walls of some houses fallen.
The power supply remained disrupted in most of the areas in Poonch from last night, which was later restored, water level in rivers and nallahs increased, while there may be more damages which are yet to be communicated as the heavy rain and snow fall is still going on in plains and higher reaches of Poonch.
Meanwhile, a high-danger level avalanche warning has been issued for four districts of Kashmir during the next 24 hours.
The avalanche warning was issued as higher reaches of Kashmir have been receiving moderate to heavy snowfall since Friday night. The widespread moderate rain, snow is expected over most places of J&K till late night.
Disaster Management Authority today issued a ‘high danger’ avalanche warning for Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla district of north Kashmir and Ganderbal district of central Kashmir.
“Avalanche with high danger level is likely to occur above 2200 metres over Kupwara, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Baramulla districts in next 24 hours,” JKDMA said in a statement.
It said an avalanche with medium danger level is likely to occur above 2200 metres over Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch, Ramban, Resai in Jammu and Anantnag and Kulgam in Kashmir during the next 24 hours.
People living in these areas are advised to take precautions and avoid venturing in the avalanche prone areas, the statement said. The JKDMA said the people should dial 112 for any help.
Meanwhile, a wet spell forecast by the Meteorological department in Srinagar has brought more snowfall at several places of Kashmir, which include Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Sinthan Top, Sadhna Pass, Doodhpathri and others.
It has been raining in Kashmir since yesterday and since this evening it has been raining heavily and this as per the MeT.
Director Meteorological department (MeT), Dr Mukhtar Ahmad told Excelsior that there is a possibility of gradual improvement in prevalent weather conditions from late tonight.
“There is no forecast of any significant weather activity thereafter till 10th March with possibility of light rain, snow at scattered places during night of 6th March to 7th March,” he said.
This evening, the MeT has stated that moderate rain with intense showers accompanied by gusty winds are expected over Srinagar, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam during the next 2-3 hours.
“In view of heavy to very heavy snowfall over few middle and higher reaches, travellers and tourists are advised to plan accordingly & follow Administration as well as Traffic Police advisory, “the MeT said in its advisory.
“General public over hilly areas are advised not to venture in Avalanche prone areas and slopy areas. Follow avalanche warnings and advisories,” it said, adding that there are chances of landslides, mudslides and shooting stones at few places.
Farmers are advised to suspend farm operations till 3rd March, the advisory read.
Meanwhile, Srinagar recorded a minimum of 2.0°C against previous night’s 4.5°C. It was below normal by 0.2°C for the city for this time of the year. Qazigund recorded a minimum of 1.8°C against 2.4°C the previous night and it was 0.9°C above normal for the town.
Pahalgam recorded a low of 0.5°C against 1.3°C the previous night and it was 2.8°C above normal for the resort. Kupwara recorded a low of minus 0.3°C against 2.3°C on the previous night, while Gulmarg a low of minus 2.0°C and minus 3.6°C on the previous night.
Srinagar record a maximum of 6.0 degree Celsius today which was 7.1 degree Celsius below normal, Pahalgam 5.7 degree, Kupwara 2.3 degree Celsius which is 10.4 degree Celsius above normal, while Gulmarg recorded a maximum of minus 0.9 degree Celsius which is 2.7 degree Celsius below normal for the place during this time of the year.