Srinagar: Twelve people were killed while one went missing in Jammu and Kashmir following the season's heaviest snowfall on Thursday.
Relief and rescue teams have recovered seven bodies from a police post that was buried under an avalanche in Jawahar Tunnel area of the Jammu-Srinagar highway. The dead include five policemen and two prisoners who had taken shelter inside the ill-fated police post when the avalanche struck.
Two special police officers (SPOs) identified as Gulzar Ahmad Mir and Gulam Nabi were rescued in an injured state and shifted to hospital for treatment. One person is still missing in the Jawahar Tunnel avalanche tragedy as rescue teams continue their efforts to locate the missing person in the heavily snowbound area. Ten people had gone missing when an avalanche hit the police post near the Jawahar Tunnel on Thursday.
Police on Friday recovered the body of Bashir Ahmad Awan in Kokernag area of Anantnag district.
His family said he had gone to collect firewood from the forest on Thursday, but did not return home. Bodies of two persons killed in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector of the Jammu-Srinagar highway were also recovered. They have been identified as Sanjit Lakra of West Bengal and Pramod Mankotia of Himachal Pradesh, police sources said. A couple was killed while their two children were rescued after an avalanche destroyed their home in Kokernag area of Anantnag district late on Thursday. Multiple avalanches occurred at many other places in the Kashmir valley, but due to lack of communication and connectivity, the extent of casualties or damage, if any, is not yet clear.
Authorities have shifted 78 families from avalanche-prone areas of Waltangoo Nar and Kund in Kulgam district to safer places. Seven families were shifted to the Khag police station after an avalanche hit their village in central Badgam district.
Another 20 families were shifted to safer places from Ganderbal.
Reports of seven to eight feet of fresh snowfall in the higher reaches and one to two feet in the plains in the past 24 hours indicate that this has been the heaviest snowfall of the season so far. Hundreds of people were stranded in Jammu as the Jammu-Srinagar highway was shut for the third consecutive day after multiple avalanches and landslides hit various stretches of the 300-km-long road. Hundreds of Kashmiris were reported to be stranded in Delhi as flight operations remained disrupted since Wednesday and were completely closed at the Srinagar international airport on Thursday. Morning flights could not operate to and from the Srinagar airport but operations were likely to resume some time later on Friday as the weather has improved significantly. The state government has arranged a special flight for Kashmiri students stranded in Jammu where they had gone to take the GAAT exam. Electricity supply, water supply and road connectivity were also severely affected in the state. Senior engineers of the electricity department said they supplied 850 MW of power to the Valley on Thursday against the usual 1,200 MW requirement.
Despite these figures, most areas in the Valley and also some in Srinagar city remained without power supply for the last 36 hours. Water supply in areas where electricity is needed to operate drinking water plants has also remained adversely affected. Roads in Srinagar and those connecting different district headquarters have remained partially closed since Thursday. Restoration of all road links in Srinagar city and inter-district road connectivity was expected within Friday.
Availability of essential commodities, including food items and petroleum products, has been hit by continued closure of the strategic Janmu-Srinagar highway through which all essential supplies are routed into the landlocked Valley. Mutton, poultry products and vegetables have vanished from markets in Srinagar city and other places. Alarmed by the depleting stocks of petroleum products, the local administration has ordered rationing of petrol and diesel till the supply position improves. This season's snowfall has dispelled fears of water shortage in rivers, lakes, streams and springs during the coming summer months. At the same time, the vagaries of nature have also taken their toll, causing serious hardships to the people. --IANS