2 more dead, NH stays closed

Excelsior Correspondent

Srinagar, Feb 9: The rescuers this morning recovered the body of a cop who was missing in the avalanche that hit Jawahar Tunnel two days ago taking the death toll to 8 while a boy died in North Kashmir when snow from roof fell on him.
And the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained shut for the fourth consecutive day even as snow was cleared from Banihal stretch but slides and shooting stones in Ramban areas were coming in the way of re-opening of the NH-44.
The rescuers this morning resumed the search operation at Jawahar Tunnel and recovered body of Selection Grade Constable, Parvaiz Ahmad. He was buried under the avalanche since Thursday. Ahmad along with 10 others were buried under the avalanche and two cops were rescued while 7 bodies including those of 5 cops were recovered from the avalanche.
And a seven-year old boy died after coming under snow that fell off the roof of a house in Chrihar village of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district late last evening.
Irfan Ahmed Khan, son of Ghulam Hassan Khan of Chrihar Kalhool died on the spot after the snow slide hit him. Click here to watch video
And the Jammu-Srinagar highway remained closed today for the fourth consecutive day due to snow accumulation and landslide.
A traffic official said that snow clearance operation was started in Banihal area South of Jawahar Tunnel this morning and the stretch was cleared in the afternoon. Around 40 passenger vehicles that were stranded in Banihal crossed the tunnel towards Kashmir.
Deputy Commissioner Ramban Showkat Aijaz told Excelsior that landslide debris were cleared at Digdol, Battery Chashma and Anokhi Falls in Ramsoo-Ramban sector but the Panthal is creating problem in re-opening of the highway. “The landslides have been cleared and single track road is ready but in Panthal the shooting stones are creating trouble. If it behaves, the road will be cleared tomorrow morning”, he said.
Over 3000 trucks carrying essential supplies especially oil tankers are stranded on the highway for the last four days. An official said that tankers and trucks carrying essentials will be allowed to ply on priority on the highway as Kashmir valley is facing crisis of fuel and other essentials.
The MeT Office has forecast dry weather till February 13 in the State but clear weather during the night led to dip in the night temperatures across Kashmir.
Cold wave conditions returned to Kashmir as the minimum temperatures last night plunged several degrees below freezing point, resulting into icy conditions on roads that hampered the movement of traffic.
Srinagar recorded a low of minus 5.7 degrees Celsius on Friday night, registering a drop of nearly five degrees compared to the previous night. The day temperature settled at 8.5 degrees Celsius.
Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir was the coldest place in the Valley as the mercury plunged to minus 14.4 degrees Celsius, while Pahalgam in South Kashmir recorded a low of minus 12.7 degrees Celsius. The day temperatures of Gulmarg and Pahalgam settled at 4.2 degrees Celsius and 2.3 degrees Celsius respectively.
Qazigund recorded a low of minus 9.0 degrees Celsius while Kupwara and Kokernag registered minimum temperatures of minus 7.4 and minus 7.7 degrees Celsius, respectively. The day temperatures of these places settled at 7.6 degrees Celsius, 10.2 degrees Celsius and 5.7 degrees Celsius respectively.
The sudden dip in the night temperature was due to clear skies overnight, which led to formation of black ice on the roads in the city and elsewhere in the Valley.
The motorists faced difficulty in driving over the frozen roads but bright sunshine eased the situation by melting the thin layer of ice.
The icy conditions led to traffic jams on Airport road at Humhama and those on way to airport had difficult time.
Meanwhile, the Government has, on the directions of Governor Satya Pal Malik, announced ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of those killed in snow avalanches and shooting stones at various places across the State during the recent snowfall.
Expressing deep grief over the loss of precious human lives in these tragic incidents, the Governor lauded the efforts of the rescue teams and local volunteers for accomplishing the challenging task of search and rescue operation despite facing extreme weather conditions.
He also expressed condolences with the bereaved families and directed the health department to provide best possible medicare facilities to the injured.