Avalanche hits Lolab, Paddar, 2 die; landslides in Ramban block NH on 5th day

Fresh landslides block Jammu-Srinagar highway near Ramban on Thursday. -Excelsior/Parvez
Fresh landslides block Jammu-Srinagar highway near Ramban on Thursday. -Excelsior/Parvez

ASI among 2 hurt as shooting stones hit highway

Fayaz Bukhari/Gopal Sharma
SRINAGAR/ JAMMU, Jan 24: Two hunters were killed after an avalanche swept them in North Kashmir’s Kupwara forests, another avalanche hit Machail Mata pilgrims’ Langar and rest shed and a Kucha house causing extensive damage in Paddar area of Kishtwar while two persons including an Assistant Sub Inspector (Traffic) were seriously injured in shooting stones incident in Ramban area on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which continued to remain closed for the fifth consecutive day today.

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Kashmir valley experienced light snowfall today with Weatherman forecasting wet weather conditions for next 24 hours, while light rain and snowfall continued at the higher reaches of Poonch, Ramban and Doda. The power supply to many parts of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Poonch, Reasi and Udhampur still remained snapped.
Official sources said that Police and Army today launched massive searches in Lolab forests after a hunter who informed the local administration in Kupwara that two of his colleagues were swept by an avalanche in forests of Lolab last night. He informed the Police that on Wednesday, he along with two other persons left for hunting in nearby Rang Warnow forest area in district Kupwara. He said that he could not trace his two colleagues after an avalanche hit them

Women walking down a street amid snowfall in Srinagar on Thursday. (UNI)
Women walking down a street amid snowfall in Srinagar on Thursday. (UNI)

Army’s 18 RR unit, during search and rescue operation today recovered two bodies of the hunters. They have been identified as Bashir Ahmad Hajam, son of Mohammad Younis and Mamdin Hajam, son Najamdin of Ring Warnow.
Last year in February also three hunters- Bashir Ahmad, Ghulam Mohammad and Mohammad Altaf- were buried under an avalanche at Guchibal Behak in Lolab area of Kupwara. Their bodies were recovered by the army after six days.
Reports from Kishtwar said that massive avalanche hit a large Yatri shed and a portion of Kucha house in the adjoining area at Chashoti in Paddar (Gulabgarh) area this afternoon. The structures suffered extensive damages but no loss of any loss was reported.
Meanwhile, Jammu –Srinagar National Highway continued to remain closed today for the fifth consecutive day due to massive land slides between Ramban and Banihal. There was fresh snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area during night but the highway was restored between Banihal and Srinagar. About 150 stranded vehicles at Banihal were also cleared for Kahmir valley.
Two persons including Traffic ASI Ajay Khokhar and one Mukesh Kumar from Rajasthan received serious injuries at Battery Chashma this evening when they were crossing road on- foot at this dangerous point. They were later rescued and removed to District Hospital, Ramban.
IGP Traffic, J&K, Alok Kumar said that landslides and shooting stones between Ramban and Banihal have created problems at least at six places. He said at one place the highway has sunk. Kumar said several times the boulders and slides were cleared but again the fresh slides created blockade. Moreover, the light rain had also started in Ramban belt this afternoon.
He said the highway could not be cleared even today due to fresh slides and blockade at Battery Chashma, Anokhi Fall, Panthyal etc but from Jammu-up to Ramban and up to Banihal from Kashmir side, the highway has been restored. There was light snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area last night and due to slippery road conditions the local traffic was suspended for some time during morning hours. He said Batote-Doda-Bhderwah and Kishtwar roads have been cleared.
Meanwhile, Kashmir valley had light snowfall today and a Meteorological Department official predicted more snow and rain during the next 24 hours in Kashmir.
The weatherman also forecast a significant fall in day temperature and a slight rise in night temperature.
As night temperatures rose slightly in Valley, the Srinagar city recorded minimum of minus 1.5 degree Celsius temperature and maximum of 5.7 degree Celsius. Pahalgam recorded a low of minus 6.8 degree Celsius while Qazigund  had minus 3 degrees Celsius, and Kokernag, recorded minus 6.7 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature at these places settled at 2.8 degrees Celsius, 3.5 degrees Celsius and 2.7 degrees Celsius, respectively.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir saw a minimum of minus 12.6 degrees Celsius.
Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan has issued a fresh avalanche warning for nine avalanche prone districts of Kashmir division. The warning has been issued for the avalanche-prone areas of district Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh. He asked concerned DCs to take all the precautionary measures and to keep the SDRF, Police and Para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness.
Reports said that power supply to many areas of Bani, Loang, Machedi, Lohai- Malhar in Kathua, Dudu-Basantgarh, Majouri, Latti and Pancheri area of Udhampur, besides snow bound areas of Ramban, Reasi, Mandi-Poonch, Rajouri and Doda-Kishtwar could not be restored. Paddar area has also plunged into darkness. Many poles and electric transformers have suffered damages and cables have also broken due to heavy snowfall and rains. The Chief Engineer, M&RE Jammu, Sudhir Gupta said that work on war footing has been launched at these places.