Army officer among 3 killed in avalanche

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Nov 8: A Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) was among three killed when an avalanche swept away an Army patrol in the higher reaches of Shamshabari mountain Range in North Kashmir near the Line of Control (LoC) today after heavy snowfall along the LoC triggered snow avalanches.
A Defence spokesman said here that at around 8 a.m. an avalanche triggered by fresh snowfall from the higher reaches of South of Nasta Chun Pass swept away an Army patrol in Shamshabari Range.
The spokesman said that it was a mini patrol party of Army comprising a JCO and four soldiers and a porter. “Army Avalanche Rescue Teams located at the Nasta Chun Pass were immediately launched and commenced the search and rescue operation”, the spokesman said.
The spokesman said that the JCO, one soldier and a porter were killed and one solider was injured and another escaped unhurt.  He said that the search and rescue operation is still in progress as one solider is still trapped under snow.
The JCO has been identified as Naib Subedar Karnal Singh, the soldier as Jinna and porter as Mohammad Shafiq. The injured solider has been identified as Ajay.
And Police and Army rescued at least 40 people from Zojila Pass stranded there because of fresh snowfall.  These people were travelling in a bus and Sumo vehicles. They were evacuated to Sonamarg.
There was heavy snowfall along over 400 kilometre long LoC in Kashmir from Gulmarg to Gurez. An official said that around 4-6 feet snow has accumulated on the mountains along the LoC. There was snowfall in Sadhna Pass, Farkyan top, Z-Gali, Machhil, Sadna top, Zojila Pass.
However, weather improved since morning but the chilly has increased in Kashmir valley. This year there is advanced due to early snowfall on mountains and freak weather conditions.
Sources said that the snowfall will hamper the militants’ attempts to infiltrate into Kashmir. “However, Army is keeping tight vigil as militants even try to infiltrate through snow”, they said.
Meanwhile, Army and police today rescued over 20 persons trapped in four vehicles at Zojila tunnel on Srinagar-Leh National Highway.
SSP Kargil Sujit Kumar told the Excelsior that five vehicles carrying about 20 civilians were trapped at Zojila between Sonamarg and Kargil last night after sudden heavy snowfall.
He said after getting reports, Army personnel from their nearby station of Dhumri and police parties from Drass rushed to the spot and rescued all trapped civilians this morning. The trapped persons left by foot towards their destinations of Kargil and Kashmir.
“There were no casualties and all trapped civilians were rescued safely,’’ Kumar said.