30 vehicles trapped in Mughal road avalanche

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, May 15: At least 30 light and medium vehicles were trapped in avalanche near Peer- Ki-Gali (Peer Panjal) on Mughal Road  amidst fresh snow fall last evening while the Police and Army personnel in joint operation rescued more than 100 trapped passengers and shifted them to Surankote and Poonch last night.
Official sources said there was heavy rain, thunder-storm and fresh snowfall in Peer Panjal area last evening. During this, a massive avalanche struck Mughal Road  between Manser and Peer Ki Gali, affecting nearly 500 meters road stretch at two- three places.  After this incident, the trapped people  contacted Police Control Room Poonch and DC Poonch and informed on phone that they have been trapped.
Since it was raining heavily and there was possible danger of being buried under avalanche, the people left the vehicles and started running away from the danger zone. There is no habitation in this belt about 5-8 km short of Peer Ki Gali on Poonch side.
A team led by DySP Surankote  Javed Ahmed rushed to the area along with police force. The district administration also sought help of the Army. The men and machinery of  HCC company deployed on the road under the supervision of Executive Engineer Mughal Road project Abdul Ghani moved to the area.
The rescue operation continued till mid night.  About two dozen vehicles buried/ semi-buried  under  avalanche were removed and dragged back.  More than one 100 people including women and children were rescued with the timely action by the District Administration, Poonch.
Deputy Commissioner Poonch, Sajjad Ahmed when contacted said that major tragedy has been averted with the timely rescue operation last night. He said that he himself was monitoring the entire operation till 12 mid night.
The DC said that immediately after receiving information that nearly 30 vehicles cars/ Tata Sumos etc  with passengers on broad have been trapped in the avalanche near Peer- ki- Gali Pass on Peer Panjal last night , the police  team  and some officers from civil administration were rushed to the area.  He said it was raining heavily and there was risk to use snow cutters and other snow clearing machines due to avalanche but the men  deployed did a great job and managed to rescue all the trapped people there and brought them back to Surankote and Poonch while some other went to Rajouri.
Replying to a question, the DC  said about half a dozen vehicles remained trapped/ buried under the avalanche last night but there was no loss of life. All the occupants were said to be safe. He said all the vehicles coming from Shopian side were also sent back  and  movement  of  the vehicles has been suspended  on Mughal road for some days or till the danger of avalanche is over.
He also lauded the efforts of HCC men  and local Army unit in the area for providing assistance and shelter as well.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu Pardeep Gupta said all the trapped passengers were rescued during last night it self  and there was no casualty at all. He said that he has asked the Chief Engineer and Executive Engineer Mughal Road to inspect the avalanche affected area and clear all the bottlenecks. He said no traffic will be allowed till the road is safe for the users. He said with the timely and prompt action the possible tragedy has been averted.
Mr Gupta said that he also spoke to his counter part in Kashmir and it was learnt that on Shopian side also scores of nomads and other people got trapped in snow and were rescued. They also joined the operation on that side. The traffic from Kashmir side has also  been suspended, he added.
Executive Engineer Mughal Road Abdul Ghani said that road was not safe for use. He said there are many patches about 8 km short of  Peer ki Gali and also on other side of Peer Panjal where road is very slippery with danger of avalanche.  First of all the snow will be removed and all the danger prone areas will be cleared, only then the traffic will be allowed. He said, “We will not take any risk now as the climate get worst some times on this ridge  area of Peer.”
Meanwhile, an official spokesman from Shopian said that police and civil administration also joined the rescue operation at Peer ki Gali and saved the lives of nearly 125 people stranded on road   and saved the livestock of the nomads trapped in snow bound area.