Rains, snow lash Kashmir, fresh avalanche warning; 40 families shifted

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Mar 20: As incessant rains and snowfall in higher reaches continued for third consecutive day today, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway that remained closed for traffic for 4 days is re-opening for one-way traffic tomorrow while authorities have issued fresh avalanche warning in the hills of Kashmir.
The snowfall in the hills and rains in the plains continued for the third consecutive day today and authorities here, on the basis of advisory issued by State Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), issued an avalanche warning for higher areas of Kashmir, advising people not to venture in these areas over the next 48 hours.
“Medium danger avalanche warning exists for avalanche prone areas above 3,000 meters altitude of Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Kargil and Ganderbal districts of Jammu and Kashmir”, the advisory said.
The rescue teams of the Army on the third day massive search operation, today recovered body of Sepoy Vijay Kumar from under 12 feet of snow in the forward area in Kargil.
The search operation continued for three days despite adverse weather conditions and upto 15 feet of snow in the area of avalanche. Avalanche rescue dogs, deep penetration radars and metal detectors were also pressed into service in the rescue operation.
An avalanche hit an Army post in the forward area in Kargil three days ago. Two soldiers were buried under it and one was rescued and is being treated in the hospital while the body of the other was recovered today.
A Defence spokesman said here that efforts were on to send the body of Sepoy Vijay Kumar to his native village of Vallaramapuram in Thirunelvelli District of Tamil Nadu. “Sepoy Sujit, the soldier who was rescued on the first day itself is medically stable and recovering well”, he said.
The spokesman said that Lt Gen DS Hooda, Army Commander, Northern Command has expressed his deep condolences to the family of Sepoy Vijay Kumar.
In the meantime, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway that remained closed for traffic for the fourth day today due to landslides and shooting stones, triggered by heavy rain is opening for one-way traffic tomorrow.
Inspector General of Police, Traffic, Viplav Kumar Choudhry, told Excelsior that National Highway will open tomorrow for one-way traffic. He said that traffic will be allowed to ply from Jammu to Srinagar only and no Jammu bound vehicle will be allowed to ply on the highway tomorrow.
The IGP Traffic said that this evening they have cleared 100 Jammu bound passenger vehicles at Batote where 30 meter road had sunk 5 feet deep yesterday. He said that round the clock restoration work was going on and 100 passenger vehicles that were stranded were allowed to cross this stretch between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. He said that by 11 pm around 500 stranded trucks will be allowed to cross the stretch.
Viplav Kumar said that the stretch between Banihal and Ramban that witnessed massive sliding for last over a week is at several places on single track and that is why only one-way traffic will be allowed tomorrow for smooth movement of the vehicles.
Dozens of villages, including those near the Line of Control (LoC) also remained cut off from their respective district and tehsil headquarters in North Kashmir due to fresh snowfall. A number of other roads, linking Keran, Karnah, Tanghdar and Machil also were closed due to heavy snowfall.
Srinagar-Uri road that opened for traffic yesterday after remaining closed for a day due to landslides, triggered by rain was closed again this evening as there has been massive sliding at Gingle, Rajawani and Nowshera. Scores of vehicles are stranded on the road.
A Defence spokesman said that incessant rains and heavy snowfall in the upper ridges of Kupwara district has brought life to standstill due to landslides and snowfall, thereby blocking the lines of communication at various places. “The major impact was noticed in the areas of Chowkibal, Patheri, Kupwara Town, Khargund, Aarampoora and Andherma wherein vehicles got stranded on the roads causing heavy traffic blockade”, he said.
“Despite heavy snowfall, snow blizzard and zero visibility, Army in last two days have undertaken major road clearance and recovery operations by employing all the required heavy duty dozers and machineries including Specialist Recovery Vehicles to ease out the vehicular traffic on the State highways”, the spokesman said.
He added that the recovery vehicles were pressed to service all along the major chokes point and their subsidiary axis for the road clearance. “Hours of dedicated effort by the Army Recovery teams in conjunction with the district administration helped in regaining the smooth flow of traffic there by providing relief to the local populace as well as tourists”, he added.
The incessant rains have caused rise in water level in the streams and rivers and water-logging at several places in Srinagar city and low lying areas of major towns.
In Mundji, Darpora, Goripora in Zainagheri area of Sopore in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district 40 families have been shifted to safer places due to threat of landslides.
In Latif Abad Chandoosa in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district 10 houses were damaged due to landslides. The Eco park in Sheeri, Baramulla has been closed as stair leading to it on the bank of Jhelum collapsed party.
There has been water logging at General Bus Stand Sopore and water has entered some shops and Police and administration is de-watering it now. There are also reports of water logging at Degree College Baramulla, Khwajabagh and Kansipora, Delina and Sangrama areas of Baramulla district.


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