Snowfall: Avalanches Hit Periphery, Immobility Plains

SRINAGAR: The incessant rains and snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir that started from Sunday evening threw life out of gear and claimed lives of at least nine people including four army men and a BSF personnel. Several structures were also damaged in many parts of the valley.

A shikara rower breaks the frozen Dal lake to pave way for his movement ashore on Tuesday, January 14, 2019. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

All flights at Srinagar airport were cancelled and the traffic on Srinagar Jammu highway remained suspended for the last two days. The air service, however, restored on Tuesday afternoon as the sun shone over Kashmir.

Most of the Dal lake was seen frozen today. Under a shining sun, the boatmen were busy breaking the icy surface to move their Shikars.

A tourist posing for a photograph on the bank of famous Dal Lake in Srinagar on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Reports quoting police sources said that more than 2000 vehicles are stranded on Srinagar Jammu national highway. Several major roads across the valley also remained closed because of the snow accumulations.

The Srinagar district received moderate snowfall, causing inundation of roads, streets and lanes across the city. Most of Srinagar stayed home on Monday but a day later situation on roads and markets improved.

Gund Avalanches

The central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district received 3.5 feet snow. Avalanches were reported from Rezangund and Rezan Kullan Gund areas of the district in which five persons were killed. Giving details, an official said that eight family members including three minors came under the avalanche in Rezangund village in Ganderbal district.

A view of famous Dal Lake in Srinagar on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

He said that with the help of the locals and Jammu and Kashmir Police all the persons trapped under the snow were rescued and shifted to hospital for treatment.

The survivors were identified as Sajad Ahmed, 24, son of  Mohammad Yousuf; Dilshada Begum, wife of Ajaz Ahmed; Gulshana Begum; Riyaz Ahmed, Irshad Ahmed, Ayan, 3-year-old, Abrar, 13, and Abu Zia, 2-year-old.

In another incident, however, five persons were killed after an avalanche hit the Rezan Kullan village in district’s Gund belt.

An official said that nine persons came under an avalanche in which five persons lost their lives.

The deceased were identified as, Mohammad Sadiq Thekrey son of  Chandiya Thekrey, Showkat Ahmed Thekrey, Ishtiyaq Ahmed Thekrey, Mohammad Akbar Bhat, son of  Mohammad Ramzan Bhat and Dawood Konshi.

The snow damaged four cowsheds in three villages of the district Gnaderbal. Locals said that electricity was restored in main town Kangan, however, the other areas which include Gagangeer, Gund, Kullan, Gagangeer, Ganiwan and Mamar are still without electricity. They said that several roads are still blocked in the district.

Giving the details, DDC Ganderbal, Hashmat Ali Khan said soon after receiving the information about the incident, a search and rescue operation began in the area, following which the operation team rescued the four persons and retrieved the two dead bodies.

He said the rescue operations was carried jointly by District Administration and Police throughout the night amid heavy snowfall.

He said the rescue operations were halted for some time due to heavy snowfall and later on three more bodies were recovered. After completing legal medico formalities, DDC said bodies were handed over to families.

Meanwhile, the snow has been cleared from Sonamarg road.

JCB To Hospital

A report from Wagoora in Baramulla said that the roads are clogged with the snow and it created a situation that they had to transport a heart patient in a JCB to Srinagar late last night.

“Almost 10 days back, Mohammad Akbar Bhat, a resident of Muqam village died of a sudden cardiac arrest,” a resident from Muqam said on phone. “Last night, his wife, Haja Begum, moved out of her home and suffered a similar attack.”

Residents took her on a cot to the nearby dispensary at Qalantra wherefrom she was referred to Baramulla. “They had nothing but a JCB and they took her in that to Baramulla wherefrom she was driven in an ambulance to Srinagar,” the resident said. “Today the same JCB brought her home, dead. It had taken the body at Qalantra.”

The lady is survived by a daughter of around 14 years and a son, who is around 12. They do not have any other close relation.

South Kashmir Snowing Still

Though weather gradually improved in most of the parts of the valley but South Kashmir witnessed a good snowfall. It was snowing intermittently on Tuesday also.

An official from PCR Anantnag said that due to recent snowfall life was disturbed in the whole district. There was no information about any killing or injury of any person or any property loss, he said.

An official from district Kulgam said that everything is safe and under control and there was also no report of any injury, death or damage of property in their jurisdiction.

In north Kashmir part, the situation was different as it received at least 3 feet snow in plain areas and more than 4 feet snow in higher reaches.

Reports said that Tangmarg – Gulmarg road was closed for the traffic movement due to landslide at Zig mode. The Tangdar –Kupwara road was also closed due to accumulation of heavy snow at Sadhna Top.

They said several houses in Uri, Handwara, Lolab and Bandipora were also damaged.

Locals said that three houses were partially damaged in Banali village of Boniyar due to snow-slide in the area. The trio house owners were identified as Syed Khan, Ghulam Hassan Khan and Mohammad Khan all residents of Banali.

Most of the Uri villages are disconnected from the main border town.

He said that two girls identified as Shagufta, 18 and Meena, 15 were trapped under a heap of snow following an avalanche which struck Dudran area. The local residents dug up the debris and rescued the two girls.

Four army men were killed in Machil sector of the Kupwara district after an avalanche hit their post. Reports said that a snow slide also hit a post of Border Security Forces personnel in Nowgam sector of Handwara in which one BSF man lost his life.

“The snowfall affected normal life across the valley several places, especially in north Kashmir were caught napping and failed to clear snow from main roads,” locals from north Kashmir told Kashmir Life over the phone.

Bilal Ahmad a resident of Baramulla said that the authorities failed to clear the snow from roads in north Kashmir until Monday evening, leaving people to suffer.

Girls walking on the bank of famous Dal Lake in Srinagar on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The residents said that patients especially children, face trouble in reaching hospitals and back home as major link roads were no cleared after the snowfall.

Similar reports of problems faced by people were received from all parts of the valley.

Director Metrological Department Kashmir, Sonam Lotus said that the weather would remain mainly dry across Kashmir till January 16, but there is the possibility of light snowfall at isolated places during this period as well.

Lieutenant Governor, Girish Chandra Murmu has expressed grief over the loss of precious lives due to snow avalanches.

In his message, the Lt Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief.

The Lt Governor directed the administration to provide best medical treatment to the injured persons and wished a speedy recovery to them, said an official statement.

Army Statement

“Over the past 48 hours, Kashmir has received heavy snowfall, upto six feet, especially in the upper mountains, which have been severely affected by heavy snow, blizzards and the resultant snow slides & avalanches. Along and close to the line of control, alert soldiers and well-rehearsed drills have ensured saving numerous lives and limiting losses.

Five Army soldiers and one BSF constable succumbed due to avalanche and snow slides.

At many locations across the Valley numerous civilians affected by avalanches and snow slides were rescued and provided immediate critical medical aid.

Adherence to safety procedures and drills combined with the quick and courageous actions by the troops of the rescue and medical teams at various places have led to the saving of many lives. The prompt and committed medical support has played a very crucial role.”

Meanwhile, at least 55 people were killed and many others were missing after avalanches hit Pakistan-administered Kashmir over the last 24 hours, AlJazeera reported senior government officials as having said.

Two Pakistani officials quoted by the Reuters news agency said on Tuesday many villagers were still stranded in the avalanches in the Neelum Valley area following heavy rains that also triggered landslides.

Many people were reported missing and feared dead as rescue efforts got underway, one of the officials said.

At least 75 people died and 64 were injured across Pakistan, with several still missing, reports quoted officials as saying.

(Saif-ullah Bashir, Sumiya Ramzan and Humira Tabassum have contributed to this report.)

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