Snow Fury: 14 killed, 1000 Houses Damaged

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Roads inundated, electric poles uprooted, internet hit

SRINAGAR: Unusually heavy snowfall has unleashed avalanches and collapsed homes in many parts of Kashmir, killing at least 14 persons on both sides of the divide, officials said.

Almost whole of Kashmir Valley was reeling under darkness for the second consecutive day with  telephone and internet services severely hampered.

Srinagar-Jammu highway also remained closed for the third day running with hundreds of vehicles stranded along the 300 km long arterial road.

The power supply to the capital city and other parts of the Kashmir valley remained shut for most part of Wednesday as well. All related services — including drinking water supply, sewerage and drainage and other civic services — have collapsed.

An avalanche hit Balasaran hamlet some 20 kilometres from Damhal Hanjivera area of South Kashmir on Tuesday night  burying several houses with some 15 people who were asleep inside them, reports said. 

While nine inmates were rescued in injured condition bodies of three persons were recovered Wednesday morning. They have been identified as Talib Hussain, Abdul Rashid and Altaf Hussain.

The injured have been identified as Siraj-u-Din Gorsi, Khadija Banoo, Manzoor Gorsi, Fatima Banoo, Latif Gorsi, Shoki Jan, Gulzara Akhtar, Bashir Ahmed and Aisha Akhtar.

On Tuesday, authorities had extended the high danger avalanche warning to more areas in the higher reaches and asked people not to venture out on steep slopes for the next 24 hours.

Reports said that due to avalanche at Balsaran 82 cattle herds have also perished.

In Anantnag district where at least forty residential houses suffered damages, a woman died when roof of her store house collapsed while she was collecting firewood. The deceased has been identified as Rehti Begum, wife of Abdul Rashid Lone of Qazigund.

A 48-year-old woman, Jana wife of Abdul Ahad Dar died after a tin-shed collapsed at Wadipora Chadoora. Jana, sources said, had gone to collect firewood from the shed adjacent to her house when it collapsed due to weight of snow. In a separate incident one Gulzar Ahmad Bhat of Alamdar Colony Chrar-i-Sharief got injured near his house in a similar situation.

In another incident, 37-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Mir of Kadalbal Pampore died after he was swept away by an avalanche near Ramsoo in Ramban on Srinagar-Jammu highway. His body has been retrieved, police said.

In Pulwama, four people suffered injuries after the roof they had climbed to clear snow collapsed this morning. The injured were removed to the hospital by police. The injured have been identified as Mushtaq Bhat of Prichoo, Farooq Lone of Muchipora, Adil Mir of Gundipora, and Fayaz Ganai of Sarnaw. 

A woman was critically injured in Shaheed Ganj area of Srinagar city when the roof of a shed collapsed.

Reports from Kargil said  at least two army personnel lost their lives after an avalanche hit their camp in Kargil sector of Ladakh region. Police identified the deceased army jawans as , Naik Vijay Prasad and Dharmindra Singh of 82 field regiment. Police further said that three Nepali labourers were killed when an avalanche hit a stone quarry at Kaksar in Kargil.

A police spokesman said 14 Gujjar families comprising 65 persons were shifted from Waltengo Nar area of Qazigund in Kulgam district to safer places due to threat of avalanches.

“On the basis of information from SASE, State Disaster Management Authority has issued a fresh high danger avalanche warning for hilly areas of Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipore, Uri, Tangdhar and Kargil.

Pakistan’s military said an avalanche killed four soldiers late Tuesday near the northern district of Astore, while another 22 troops had been rescued after “heroic efforts” by the army.

Avalanches are common in the mountainous region, especially in spring when the air has more moisture and snow is heavier. But the region has seen an unusually heavy snowfall for March, with 2 ½ feet falling in the past three days, said Farooq Ahmed Khan acting head of Srinagar Meteorological Department.

The last similar late-season snowfall was in 2007, when about 2 feet fell during a short time in March.

“It’s definitely unprecedented to have such heavy snowfall in one single spell for three days,” Khan said.

LIFE DISRUPTED

Meanwhile heavy snowfall disrupted life for the second consecutive day throughout Kashmir valley.

While air traffic resumed later in the afternoon after beacon cleared the runway of Srinagar Airport, road network throughout Valley remained blocked by snow.

Mobile phone and some internet services were also restored. 

However  Valley reeled under darkness for the second day running while the authorities said that the restoration work was in progress. 

They said that both the power transmission lines connecting Jammu and northern grid to Srinagar shut down due to heavy snowfall. The snowfall damaged transmission and distribution networks after snow fall began on Monday.

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