NH remains blocked for 2nd day, over 1500 vehicles stranded

Vehicles stranded near Panthyal bridge in Ramban area on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. - Excelsior/Parvaiz Mir

3 die in landslides

Gopal Sharma/Fayaz Bukhari

JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Feb 21: Three persons were killed in landslides in Poonch and Reasi districts while continuous rain and landslides blocked the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway for second consecutive day today whereas over 1500 vehicles have been stranded at Ramban, Udhampur and Jammu areas.
Continuous rain throughout the night and during day in many parts of Jammu region, wrecked havoc and blocked Jammu-Srinagar National Highway atleast at more than half a dozen places, between Ramban and Banihal. As the rain continued during the day as well, the road clearance work could not be initiated vigorously. Batote-Doda-Kishtwar Road was also blocked at two places and the traffic remained suspended during the day today.
Official sources said that two persons were killed while one was seriously injured when a private Cell Phone company vehicle (Tata Mobile) came under landslides on Mandi-Fatehpur road in district Poonch this evening. The tragedy struck when the vehicle was on way to provide fuel to some towers operating in the area. Suddenly, the vehicle in which 3 persons including driver were on board, came under the landslides at round 6.30 pm near Army Camp, Baila. Click here to watch video
All the three critically injured were rescued by the Army and other civilians of the area and were rushed to Mandi hospital where Makho Singh, son of Ramesh Singh, resident of Akhnoor was declared dead.
The other two injured Anjum Khan (30), son of Naseer Khan, resident of Surankote and Deepak Singh (34), son of Darshan Singh, resident of R S Pura Jammu were referred to District Hospital Poonch where, Anjum also succumbed to injuries after some time. Deepak was provided treatment and then referred to GMC Hospital Jammu tonight, a police spokesman said.
Reports from Reasi said that another landslide hit Saar village of Mahore in which 4- year- old boy was buried alive. He has been identified as Murtaza, son of Shabir Ahmed, resident of Gulabgarh. The boy along with his parents had gone to his maternal grandparents’ house at Saar (Bagga). The landslide hit the village and the boy coming from the nearby area came under its grip. His body was later retrieved by the villagers.
SSP Traffic, National Highway, JS Johar said that highway was blocked at Mom Passi last evening and since then it continued to be blocked. He said due to heavy rain throughout the night and even during the day today, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was blocked due to land slides at Maroog, Anokhi Fall, Panthyal, Battery Chashma, Digdol, Mom Passi and some other places. He said about 400 to 500 passenger vehicles have been stranded between Ramsoo, Ramban and Chanderkote and many people have been accommodated in Government buildings and some locations.
Johar said it was very tough job to clear the highway as shooting stones continued to pose risk to the lives of machine operators. He said a big boulder lying on the road has even restricted the movement of on- foot passengers, leaving no space for the movement from hill or the deep Nallah side. He however, hoped that if the weather improved, the highway is likely to be restored by tomorrow evening. He said there was about one to 1.5 ft snow in Jawahar Tunnel area but that stretch was cleared by the machines. Johar said the movement of the vehicles from Kashmir side up to Banihal has been restored. From Jammu or Dhar- Udhampur side, no movement of vehicles was allowed today. Even from Qazigund and Khannabal side no vehicles were allowed today except some local vehicles.
Deputy Commissioner Ramban, Showkat Aijaz and SSP Anita Sharma accompanied by other officers accommodated stranded passengers in two Govt schools, a community hall and some other locations and also made arrangements for their food etc. The DC said some passengers along with nearly 150 light vehicles have been struck between Digdol and Ramsu. The District Administration is ensuring every possible help to them, he added.
Kashmir valley was lashed by rains today while the hills had fresh snowfall. The higher reaches of Kashmir received fresh snowfall, while the plains were lashed with rains.
A MeT Department said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded 29 cms of snow, while Kupwara received 11 cms of fresh snowfall during the night.
Snow was also recorded in some areas like Jawahar Tunnel along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.
He said there are reports of fresh snowfall in few other areas in the higher reaches of the valley. The plains received intermittent rains during the night which continued throughout the day. The incessant rains in Kashmir valley led to water logging at several places.
The MeT office has said there is possibility of rain/snow at isolated places across the State on Friday.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan today issued fresh avalanche warning for the avalanche prone districts of Kashmir. The warning has been issued for the avalanche prone areas in Kashmir and the Deputy Commissioners of all districts have been told to advise the people living in avalanche prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
Meanwhile, due to heavy and unprecedented snowfall since last evening about 15 people of village Ralakung Phima and Nangma area were stranded at Jingchen in Leh district.
Executive Councillor for Zanskar Affairs Engineer Punchok Tashi told that the stranded people have called from Lingshed village and told that the village is cut-off from both Zanskar and Leh due to the heavy snowfall.
He told that there is only one household in the village Jingchen and apprehended that in case of long blockage, they will face scarcity of food but till date all of them were safe and halting at Jingchen.
Due to heavy snowfall since last night an avalanche has struck Youljuk Suru which has blocked highway. The avalanche also hit the residential house of Akhone Mohsin which resulted in damage to the house but no loss of life has been reported in this avalanche.
Kargil experienced about 18-19 inches of snowfall till 3pm and traffic was mostly suspended on various routes. District Magistrate Kargil has closed the movement of traffic on NH 1D Kargil-Leh Road, Kargil -Drass Road and other major roads in view of avalanche warnings.
Meanwhile, in view of administration’s apathy towards the suffering of common people who got stuck up on the roads due to hostile weather, stranded passengers on Batote-Kishtwar Highway contributed to hire a JCB to clear the debris of landslide as authorities failed to depute any machine even after 12 hours of the landslide that hit Dansal-Jathi and Khellani near Doda on Batote-Kishtwar National Highway early today morning.
However, only after the intervention of Divisional Commissioner Jammu in the afternoon, the authorities at Doda finally swung into action to restore the vital road link which connects twin districts after remaining closed for more than 12 hours.
Passengers of Doda and Kishtwar districts, especially elderly and toddlers got stranded due to sudden landslide followed by shooting stones that hit the road at Jathi-Dansal and Khellani at 1.30 am on Thursday morning in hostile weather and extreme cold wave conditions.
According to stranded passengers, landslide took place at Khellani and Jathi area early morning, leading to stranding of vehicles carrying passengers including toddlers.
“Batote-Doda-Kishtwar NH1B got closed today morning at 1:30 am after heavy mudslide, landslides and boulders hit the Khelleni and Jathi area. The restoration work was started but continued falling of shooting stones and mudslides were hampering the restoration work,” said DySP Doda-Kishtwar, Zohaib Hassan.
Stranded passengers alleged that they informed District police and civil administration at about 2:30 am but concerned authorities did not send any men or machine till 2 pm which shows the seriousness of administration towards the problems of general public.
They alleged that drivers and passengers contributed Rs 4500 and hired a JCB to clear the road at Jathi area but they were stuck again at Khellani near Doda.
“This is the height of insensitive attitude and apathy on part of administration towards the common people, after waiting for 12 long hours, we contributed Rs 4500 and hired a machine to clear Jathi slide but got again stuck up at Khellani,” said Ghulam Nabi, stranded passenger from Kishtwar.
After intervention of Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sanjeev Verma, authorities started work to restore the vehicular movement on the road this evening.
Gool-Mahore-Reasi, Mahore- Chassana -Budhal, Chenani-Latti-Dudu-Basantgarh-Ramnagar, Udhampur- Pancheri-Landhar besides Basohli-Bani roads have also been closed due to land slides.
Bhaderwah experienced about 5-6 inch of snowfall while higher reached witnessed even more than one ft snowfall today.
Chopper service to Mata Vaishnodevi from Katra base camp remained suspended but the pilgrimage continued smoothly today despite rain. The battery car also operated normally. Many rivers and streams in Jammu area were flooded during morning hours but water flowed below the alert mark.