4 killed, 3 missing as landslides hit Sumo in Ramban, vehicle slips into gorge in Doda

A vehicle trapped in Poonch river after bailey bridge was washed away in floods on Thursday morning. Another pic on page 6. —Excelsior/Harbhajan
A vehicle trapped in Poonch river after bailey bridge was washed away in floods on Thursday morning. Another pic on page 6. —Excelsior/Harbhajan

* Bailey bridge washed away in Poonch  floods

Gopal Sharma/     Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Mar 17: Four persons were killed and three others went  missing  as a Tata Sumo after being hit   by  landslides near Ramban rolled down into a 200 feed deep nullah and another vehicle slipped down the road during heavy rain in Doda area today while a bailey bridge was washed away in massive flood in Poonch as heavy rain lashed entire J&K, snapping land link between Jammu and Srinagar besides several other areas of the region.
SHO Ramsu, Inspector Mohd Amin Malik had narrow escape while a  constable was injured when shooting stones hit police vehicle at Panthial on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. SHO had gone to supervise rescue operation in Gangroo area where  the Jammu bound Tata Sumo had rolled down into nullah with landslides.
In view of the heavy rains predicted by the MeT department during next two days, Deputy Commissioner Doda, Bhupinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner Ramban Bashir Ahmed Dar and  DC Kishtwar,  G N Balwan have ordered closure of all the Educational institutions in   Doda, Ramban  and Kishtwar districts on Friday.
It was raining heavily when the Tata Sumo No. JK03C/ 8188, which was on its way to Jammu from Shopian, rolled down along with slides and boulders deep down the Bisleri nallah at Gangroo sliding zone.  The Jammu- Srinagar Highway was closed immediately after this mishap. Two more landslides occurred at Sher Bibi and Panthial, forcing closure of the highway.
A senior police official told the Excelsior that total eight persons were on board the Jammu bound Sumo. Four persons went missing while four injured were rescued after long and tough rescue operation by police with the help of some locals. The rain and continuous land and mud slides,  hampered the operation.  One of the injured succumbed while being brought on the road from deep nallah while another one passed away in Ramsoo hospital. He could not be taken up to Ramban or Banihal hospitals as on both sides highway was blocked.
They were later identified as Hajaat Mir (65), son of Naseer Mir and Mohd Sikander (40), son of Waris Mir, both residents of Syedpora Shopian.  Out of the four missing,  driver Manzoor Ahmed hailing from the same village of Shopian  was recovered from the nullah. He was washed away and got trapped in a rock. The two other injured rescued from the trapped vehicle under debris were identified as Ghulam Mohd Mir and Reyaz Ahmed Mir, both  sons of  Jaleel Ahmed Mir, residents of Sayedpora. The police parties and locals were trying to trace the three missing passengers.
IG Traffic J&K Viplov Kumar told the Excelsior that Jammu Srinagar National Highway was closed at around 12 noon today after the landslides at Gangroo where this tragic accident took place. He said the highway was blocked at two more places Sher Bibi and Panthial and a large number of vehicles got stranded on both sides of the highway.
He further disclosed that snow fall in Jawahar Tunnel area also affected the movement of the vehicles due to slippery conditions and the movement of vehicles from Lower Munda towards Jammu was also stopped. Kumar said that around 700 vehicles are stranded on the highway with 500 in Ramban, 100 in Ramsu and 100 in Gangroo. He said that the chances of the highway opening for traffic tomorrow are bleak as there is weather forecast of heavy rains for tomorrow. He said that they will try to get the slides and shooting stones cleared from the highway tomorrow.
Kumar disclosed that Batote-Kishtwar road had been closed due to landslides at Raggi Nullah and Khellani in the morning. The landslides were cleared in the afternoon and the stranded vehicles on both the sides were cleared but the road was not opened for fresh traffic from Batote or Doda side as it was raining continuously.
Another  report from Doda said that  two persons were killed while two others were injured when a Tata Mobile vehicle bearing registration No. JK02AT/4076 slipped during heavy rain at Arnora near Gath about  6 kms from Doda this evening. The vehicle was on way to Baboor village. Due to slippery road conditions, the vehicle rolled down killing two persons on the spot and causing injuries to the two others.
The deceased were identified as Rakesh Kumar, son of Hari Lal  and Ranjit Kumar, son of Puran Chand, residents of Baboor. The injured have been identified as Raju Singh, resident of Mannan Jodhpur and Kafait Ullah from Jodhpur village.  The injured have been admitted to Doda hospital. The police party from Doda removed the dead bodies to the mortuary of district hospital.  Several link roads in Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar and Udhampur have been closed due to rain and landslides.
Another report from Poonch said that  two portions of the bailey bridge raised on the river  at Poonch  city today  washed away due to flash flood. It was at round  7 am when the local administration stopped the movement of vehicles on this temporary bridge raised by Army. At around 8 am the water level started rising and the bridge was washed away. Its steel girders and other material got washed down to the POK.  Later a  Tata Sumo vehicle which tried to pass through the river after water level receded, got trapped.  The people were however, rescued.  The traffic on Jammu-Poonch route has now been diverted to Kalai bridge.
Meanwhile,   Reasi-Mahore and Mahore Gool road besides Sungari-Chasana roads and Ramnagar- Dudu Basantgarh roads have been closed due to heavy rain. Due to heavy snow fall at Daggan Top Mahore Gool road could not be opened for the last one week. Incidents  of two houses collapse have also been reported from Chasana in Mahore and Darhal in Rajouri.
Fresh snowfall has been witnessed on the higher reaches of Poonch, Rajouri,  Doda, Kishtwar and Ramnagar  since last night.  More snowfall has been reported on Mughal Road.
Mata Vaishnodevi Yatra was going on smoothly but the helicopter service from the base camp Katra to the shrine remained suspended throughout the day.
There is sharp fall in the temperature due to incessant rains in the entire Jammu region. The Jammu city roads witnessed  water logging at many places, affecting movement of traffic.  The water level in most of the rivers and seasonal streams has also increased with the rains.
Meanwhile, incessant rains lashed Kashmir valley since last night and the higher reaches experienced fresh snowfall forcing the authorities to close the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway due to massive slides and shooting stones at various places while the Weatherman predicted wet weather till Sunday.
A Meteorological Department official said that the higher areas of the Kashmir including, Kupwara and the tourist resorts of Pahalgam and Gulmarg, received fresh snowfall since last night leading to drop in the temperatures across Kashmir.
The tourist resort of Gulmarg received two feet fresh snowfall since last night while Kondoori received 4.5 feet and Afarwat 5 feet. Razdhan Pass in Bandipora received one foot, Gurez valley 7 inches and Sadna one foot snowfall.   Pahalgam in South Kashmir received light snowfall, while Kupwara town in north recorded rains and snow equivalent to 34.5 mm of rainfall.
The spokesman further said that  Jammu witnessed a maximum temperature of 18.9 degree Celsius and minimum 15.6 degree while 6 mm rainfall was recorded till this evening. Banihal recorded the highest rainfall of 37 mm while Katra recorded 10.8 mm  and Batote 24. 0 mm rainfall today.  He further said that the weather would remain  same during the next two days and it will improve after March 20.
After snowfall and forecast of more rains and snowfall, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir issued avalanche warning for the hills of Kashmir today till Sunday. “All the Deputy Commissioners of the Kashmir division have been directed to take immediate precautionary measures for security and safety of the general public”, reads weather advisory.
“People at large have been asked to remain away from the avalanche prone areas on March 18 and 19, 2016, during which heavy rains over the plains and snowfall and avalanches in the upper reaches has been predicted by the Meteorological Department”, the advisory reads.
Srinagar and other areas in the plains were lashed by the overnight heavy rains. The city recorded 17 mm of rains since morning leading to water-logging in many areas. However, at several places the water was being drained out by the Srinagar Municipality but roads in some of the low lying areas were inundated due to faulty drainage. Qazigund, Pahalgam, Kupwara and Kokernag received  20 mm, 21 mm, 23 mm and 18 mm rainfall respectively.
The continuous snowfall and incessant rains for last 24 hours led to drop in the temperatures. Srinagar recorded a maximum 4.3 degree Celsius, 10 notches below normal; Qazigund 5.8 degree Celsius, 8 notches below normal; Pahalgam  recorded 3.8 degree Celsius, 7 notches below normal; Kupwara recorded 4.3  degree Celsius, 10 notches below normal; Kokernag recorded 6.1  degree Celsius, 7 notches below normal; Gulmarg recorded 0.2 degree Celsius, 5 notches below normal.
The Meteorological Department has forecast widespread rains in the plains for three days from today. It said there is also a possibility of moderate snowfall in the higher reaches of the Valley.


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