Highways closed; air, train service suspended; exams postponed
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley received heavy snowfall of this season on Tuesday leading to the closure of all major roads and snapping of air and train services. The first major snowfall also disrupted much needed power supply plunging the Valley into darkness.
People Tuesday woke up to snowy morning with a thick blanket of snow covering the every open space. Tourists staying in hotels and houseboats came out in open to enjoy the flakes of snow. Many tourists were seen hurling snow on each other to express their joy.
For residents of Valley, the snowfall brought some relief from the long dry spell but added to their woes after the electricity supply was cut off as the snow snapped the power lines in capital Srinagar and other towns. In many areas power cut also disrupted water supply.
Though authorities claimed they have pressed into service snow clearing machines, the interior roads in Srinagar and elsewhere remained covered with snow causing traffic disruption.
A senior traffic officer said the snowfall has been quite heavy in the Pir Panchal mountain range leading to closure of the valley's only functional road link to the rest of the world, the strategic Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Reports reaching Kashmir Observer said life across Kashmir valley has been thrown out of gear with people mostly confined to their homes.
Countless accidents were witnessed on slippery roads Tuesday as none of the vehicles moving on city roads was seen with mandatory snow chains. True to its image traffic police remained absent from duty on the day they were required most. Even traffic booths in civil lines remained empty during the day.
The continuous snowfall and poor visibility also led to the cancellation of all inbound and outbound flights from Srinagar airport. Chaotic scenes were witnessed at Srinagar Airport as scores of passengers who had managed to reach there were informed about cancellations only after reaching there. None of them had been informed by the airlines telephonically ahead.
The Banihal-Qazigund-Baramulla train service was also suspended due to heavy snowfall.
The heavy snowfall also prompted the authorities to close down the 300-km Srinagar-Jammu highway for traffic.
We have suspended traffic on the highway due to heavy snowfall. We have been able to clear most of the stranded vehicles, however, over a dozen vehicles, including passenger buses are stranded. Efforts are on to clear them, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Traffic Muneer Khan said.
Srinagar city recorded 15 cm of fresh snowfall till afternoon, while Qazigund recorded 1 ft, Pahalgam 1.5 ft, Kokernag 2ft, Banihal 1.5 ft, Batote 2 ft, and Jawahar Tunnel 2.5 ft of snow. The minimum temperate in Srinagar was recorded at minus 1.4 degree Celsius.
Ski resort of Gulmarg had recorded 1 ft of snow by afternoon as the minimum temperature was recorded at minus 1.0 degree Celsius. Pahalgam recorded minimum temperature of minus 6.6 degree Celsius. Leh recorded minimum temperature of minus 12.0 degree Celsius.
Meanwhile, the meteorological department has predicted more rains and snow across Jammu and Kashmir in the next 24 hours.
Light to moderate snow/rain would occur at many places in Jammu and Kashmir regions and a few places in Ladakh region, an official of the MeT department said.
Avalanche hits Ganderbal
One person was critically injured Tuesday when an avalanche struck Gund Surfraw area of central Kashmirs Ganderbal district.
Official sources said that a group of three youth from Gund area went to the nearby forests early today morning to collect firewood when an avalanche struck the area. While the four escaped unhurt, one of them got trapped in the snow. After three hours, police and locals were able to rescue the youth in an injured condition.
The injured youth identified as Riyaz Ahmad Bajad of Gund Surfraw was shifted to Kangan hospital where from he was later moved to SKIMS Soura in a serious condition.
Police said it has issued advisories to the locals living in Kangan area to avoid venturing in avalanche prone areas.
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