BANIHAL / JAMMU Two engineers of a private company engaged in construction of 1,000-MW Pakal Dul hydroelectric project were killed in a landslide in Kishtwar district while a major landslide disrupted traffic once again on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
The deceased were identified as senior mechanical engineer Gurmeet Singh and resident electric engineer Vijay Gupta, residents of Jammu and Kathua respectively, they said.
The landslide occurred on Friday evening near Ikhala-Bhandarkot in Dachan tehsil — 45 kilometers from Kishtwar town, the officials said.
The bodies of the engineers, who were working with Jaypee Group, were recovered from the spot, eight kilometers from the construction site late on Friday night, they said.
“They were part of a team working to restore the road link to the residential quarters. After having lunch, they returned to the site and were hit by boulders which rolled down from the hillock along with mud, trapping them,” a company official said.
He said a rescue operation was launched after a shepherd alerted them.
A police official said the bodies were brought to the district hospital in Kishtwar on Saturday morning and later handed over to their families after completion of legal formalities.
A major landslide struck the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban district on Saturday, disrupting smooth movement of traffic which was restored after three days of closure owing to fresh snowfall and multiple landslides, officials said.
The landslide completely blocked the highway near Maroog around 1 pm, leaving thousands of Kashmir-bound vehicles, which were allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar, stranded, they said.
The officials said the agency concerned pressed its men and machines, and after nearly six-hour long operation cleared the road for light motor vehicles.
The road clearance operation was still going on when last reports were received, the officials said, adding that there is heavy traffic congestion on the highway along the Ramban-Banihal stretch.
They said no fresh vehicle will be allowed either from Srinagar or Jammu on Sunday to allow clearance of the stranded vehicles.
The strategic 270-km highway was reopened for one-way traffic Saturday morning after clearance of the debris from the landslide-hit areas.
The reopening of the highway had come as a major relief to thousands of passengers who were left stranded following the closure of the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country on Wednesday.
Heavy snowfall around the Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir — and landslides triggered by incessant rains at over half a dozen places between Banihal and Ramban had forced authorities to suspend vehicular movement on the highway.
“The debris was cleared and the road was made traffic-worthy by Friday evening, thus allowing the authorities to clear the large number of stranded vehicles,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic), National Highway, Suresh Sharma told PTI.
“However, shooting of stones and two landslides in Digdole area overnight disrupted the movement of traffic once again. After hectic efforts, the road was cleared and the Kashmir-bound traffic was allowed from Jammu on Saturday morning,” he said. He added that no vehicle was being allowed from the opposite direction to avoid a traffic jam.
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