JAMMU, Apr 12: Police and Army authorities in a joint operation last night rescued over 300 passengers, stranded on Mughal Road after an avalanche hit the road near Peer Ki Gali while more than 50 vehicles got trapped as snowfall amidst rain also started in the area.
SSP Poonch, Rajiv Pandey told the Excelsior that since there is no mobile communication in the area, he received information in the evening on his wireless set regarding avalanche and snowfall in Pir Ki Gali area where more than 300 passengers had got trapped. Pandey said he directed SDPO Surankote DySP Riaz and SHO Anjir Mir to leave immediately for the area for rescue operation along with Police force and vehicles available.
The SSP said that the cops had to leave their vehicles about 4-5 kilometers away from the avalanche area as snow had accumulated on the road and it was slippery late in the evening. “They found some women and children besides other elderly passengers trapped at different locations. But thank God, there was no vehicle hit by avalanche. All the passengers were removed to Bafliaz and Surankote and were provided shelter and food”. He said the highway was restored this afternoon and trapped vehicles were also cleared for their respective destinations.
DySP Riaz said that he along with Incharge PP Behramgalla and SHO Surankote and other rescue team members reached there on the spot but since they had not sufficient vehicles and manpower, they sought help from Commanding Officer of 16 RR who sent his men led by a Captain also rescued many people and removed in their vehicles to Bafliaz and Surankote. He said a lady patient being shifted from SKIMS to Poonch and her attendant and two elderly persons were shifted to a Shrine at Pir Ki Gali for night halt as they were unable to walk.
Avalanche had hit the road hardly 500 mtrs short of Peer Ki Gali on Poonch side. It became very difficult for all to cross that troubled area. He said the women and children were shifted in Police vehicles in first round while others were removed in a Mughal Road Project tipper and Army vehicles. The vehicles had to ply using chains on the wheels on heavy snow there. Many people kept their vehicles trapped in the snow and came down to Bafliaz and Surankote.
Riaz said operation continued till 3.30 am in the morning and today the road clearance work started after weather turned clear. He said the highway was restored at around 2 pm and all the trapped vehicles were also pulled out and sent for their respective destinations.
The DySP said when the vehicles were cleared from Poonch and Shopian sides in the morning hours the road was clear but suddenly the weather turned bad and it stated raining and snowfall moreover, avalanche blocked the highway. He however, said that passengers travelling on this road remained lucky as they were away when the avalanche hit the road.
Dy Commissioner Poonch, Mohd Aijaz and SSP Rajiv Pandey were supervising the operation closely and lauded the efforts of Police and Army rescue teams.