11 killed as avalanches, landslides hit Indian-controlled Kashmir following heavy snowfall

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-08 22:47:50|Editor: Chengcheng
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Rescuers remove snow and debris from a police post hit by an avalanche to rescue trapped people near Jawahar Tunnel in Anantnag district, about 90 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, Feb. 8, 2019. At least 10 people, mostly policemen, were trapped Thursday evening after a massive avalanche hit a police post in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- At least 11 people were killed in avalanches and landslides that hit Indian-controlled Kashmir following heavy snowfall and rains, officials said Friday.

The avalanches struck at Kokernag in Anantnag district and Jawahar tunnel in Kulgam district, while landslides were triggered in Ramban district.

All these districts lie south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"Following the heavy snowfall in the region yesterday avalanches hit a residential house in Kokernag killing a man and his wife, while as their two daughters were rescued alive. Likewise a massive avalanche hit a police post at Jawahar tunnel burying 10 people including six policemen and two firefighters," a senior local government official said.

Early Friday police and disaster response force personnel launched an intense search to trace the trapped men inside the police post. However, during the search seven bodies were retrieved.

"During the search seven bodies belonging to two fire service personnel, two prisoners and three police personnel were retrieved," a police official overseeing rescue operation told Xinhua. "Two policemen were rescued alive, while as one is still missing."

Police official said the chances of survival for the missing policeman are said to be bleak.

Rescuers cut through mounds of snow manually to reach the trapped.

The avalanche hit the police post Thursday evening. However, incessant snow and wind hampered the rescue work.

Officials said there were 20 people inside the post when a massive avalanche hit it but 10 managed to come out safely immediately.

The upper reaches of Indian-controlled Kashmir received a heavy snowfall since Wednesday, while the plains were hit too on Thursday causing blockade of roads and power outages.

Officials said two people were killed after landslides hit a key highway connecting the Muslim majority area of region with Jammu province and others Indian states near the Ramban district.

"The duo was killed after shooting stones triggered by landslides struck the highway between Battery Cheshma and Maroog areas," an official said. "The two men were travelling on foot when the stones hit them."

Police said traffic on the 294-km Srinagar-Jammu highway remained suspended for the third straight day in the wake of accumulation of snow near Banihal tunnel and drifting of landslides.

Hundreds of passengers have been stranded on the highway and all the supply trucks leading to Srinagar were stuck.

With the suspension of traffic on main road, the supply of essential commodities is rapidly drying up.

To contain the situation, local government has ordered for the "rationing" of fuel - petrol, diesel and LPG - supplies.

"The decision was taken in view of the fast depletion of petrol products i.e. Motor Spirit (MS) and High Speed Diesel (HSD) and LPG, It is felt expedient to implement the rationing with respect to the distribution of these products, till such time the supplying position improves after road opening," a government order read.

As per directive all petrol pumps have been asked to issue only three litres of petrol per vehicle per day and 10 litres of diesel to the commercial vehicles a day.

Indian-controlled Kashmir has a rugged terrain. Landslides and avalanches are often triggered from its mountains during frequent rains and heavy snowfall.

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