Srinagar: At least eleven people, including two soldiers, were killed and 21 others injured due to the fresh spell of snowfall that wreaked havoc across the Kashmir Valley since Tuesday night. The snowfall damaged nearly 600 residential houses, devouring livestock in hundreds, causing huge destruction to horticulture, and plunging Valley into darkness. Meanwhile, air traffic has resumed while the strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the third consecutive day.
Reports said three people, including two minors were killed and eight others injured when an avalanche hit Balisaran village in Damhal Hanjipora area of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district in the wee hours Wednesday. The avalanche also caused extensive damage to nearly two dozen residential houses. The dead have been identified as Abdur Rashid, Altaf Hussain, 10, and Talib Hussain, 10. They were asleep when the avalanche buried their residential houses. Nine people, who had suffered injuries in the incident, were rescued by the locals after hours of struggle and were removed to the nearby health facility. They have been identified as Siraj-u-Din Gorsi, Khadija Banu, Manzoor Gorsi, Fatima Banu, Lateef Gorsi, Shoki Jan, Gulzara Akhtar, Bashir Ahmed and Aisha Akhtar. Two of the seriously injured were brought to Srinagar for treatment.
“Around 80 cattle also perished in the avalanche. Had the locals not started rescue operation instantly, the causalities could have been higher. The officials of the district administration reached the spot on Wednesday noon for the sake of formality,” Javed Ahmad Dar, a local told Kashmir Reader.
In the neighbouring Anantnag district, a woman identified as Rehti Begum, 48, wife of Abdur Rashid Lone, of Manigam, Qazigund died when the outhouse, where she had gone to fetch firewood, collapsed on Wednesday morning. Police also rescued around 14 families from the avalanche-prone Waltengo Naad area of Qazigund before shifting them to safer place.
In Shopian district, a septuagenarian woman identified as Fazi Begum, wife of Jalal-ud-Din was critically injured when her house in Kansoo village of Imam Sahab area collapsed due to heavy snowfall on Tuesday evening. She was removed to the hospital by her family, where the doctors declared her brought dead.
In Panthal area of Ramban, police retrieved the body of 45-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Mir of Kadlabal, Pampore, who came under a snow avalanche on Tuesday night. The deceased is said to be a driver. “A police team will be sent to Panthal to bring the body of the deceased to his hometown,” Station House Officer (SHO) Pampore, Raja Tasleem, told Kashmir Reader. Mir is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. He was the only earning hand of the family.
Reports said at least four people were injured when they were clearing snow from their rooftops in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The injured have been identified as Adil Mir of Gundipora, Fayaz Ganai of Sarnaw, Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat of Prichoo, and Farooq Ahmad Lone of Muchipora.
Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, son of Abdul Aziz of Alamdar Colony, Char-i-Sharief in Budgam was also injured in similar circumstances
In central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, at least seven people were injured in different incidents, officials said. Four people, whose identity was not available, were injured when residential houses of Mohammad Rafiq Khayee and Abdul Hamid Wani crumpled in Hayan village of Palpora area of the district. Two more houses belonging to Mushtaq Ahmad Ganai and Mehboob Sheikh were damaged in Kangan.
In Gadoora, Ganderbal, two persons identified as Fayaz Ahmad Guroo and Firdous Ahmad Ganai were injured when a tree fell upon a tin shed in the house of Ghulam Rasoo Wani. In Lar, Mohammad Amin Shah was injured after a branch of Chinar tree fell upon his house.
Meanwhile, two soldiers and three labourers hailing from Nepal were killed in two different avalanches in the mountainous Kargil district. Constables Vijay Prasad and Dharminder of 288 Medium Regiment were killed when an avalanche swept their post in Batra area of Drass in the wee hours Wednesday, officials said.
In a similar incident, an avalanche washed away a tin shed in Kaksar area causing death of three labourers from Nepal. The identity of the deceased was not immediately known.
“Ten people have reportedly been killed in incidents of house collapse and avalanches. Five of the causalities have been reported from Kargil, while rest from south Kashmir. Besides, 600 houses and seven government schools have been partially damaged due to fresh snowfall,” Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Dr Shailendra Kumar told Kashmir Reader.
When asked about the breakdown of electricity supply across the Valley, Kumar said the supply in major towns and districts of the Valley will be restored by Wednesday evening while restoration work in upper areas will be completed by Thursday evening.
“Transmission lines have been badly damaged due to the snowfall. By Wednesday night, we’re hopeful that the electricity scenario will be far better,” Kumar added.
On the issue of water logging in commercial areas and residential colonies, Kumar said that 120 dewatering pumps have been pressed into service to clear the submerged areas. “Even around midnight, we were witnessing snowfall. All efforts are being made to clear water logging and to restore electricity supply,” he added.
Meanwhile, Srinagar-Jammu highway, the strategic surface link connecting Valley with the outside world remained closed for third consecutive day Wednesday due to heavy accumulation of snow and landslides at many places, including Panthal, rendering the highway unsafe for the vehicular movement. At least 250 trucks, passenger buses and light motor vehicles are stranded at Qazigund, Banihal, Ramban, Ramsoo, Batote, Patnitop, Nagrota and Udhampur, even as the officials of Beacon were making efforts to clear the road for vehicular traffic. The Banihal-Qazigund train service also remained affected due to the blockade of the track by snow.
However, after a day’s suspension, air traffic was restored on Wednesday afternoon after the Airports Authority of India cleared the runway following improvement in weather conditions.
An official of a private airliner told Kashmir Reader that air traffic resumed after weather conditions improved considerably. He said all flights to and fro operated normally in the afternoon.
Even two additional flights were pressed into service by Indigo and Go Air to lift the stranded passengers,” he said.
Meanwhile, the complaints of water logging kept on pouring from most areas of this capital city, even as the city residents lashed out at the administration for failing to end their miseries. The uptown areas of Padshahi Bagh, Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Exhibition Road, Sarai Bala, Bemina, Batamaloo remained inundated causing much inconvenience to the people.
The residents also accused Srinagar Municipal Corporation of failing to clear the roads, lanes and by lanes of the city.
Meanwhile, an official of the Weather Department said that light snow/rain would occur at isolated places over the state in the next 24 hours.
“A fresh Western disturbance may affect Jammu and Kashmir from March 15 onwards,” the official added.