Snow turns killer, buries 6 in avalanche

Rural areas without power, highway closed, flights grounded
Srinagar/Baramulla/Anantnag: Six people including a family of four died on Wednesday after two avalanches struck in the higher reaches of Kashmir following heavy snowfall on the second consecutive day.
Four family members who lived in Gurez Budugam in Bandipore district were buried alive in a snow avalanche that came crashing upon their home in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Sub Divisional Magistrate Rouf-ur-Rehman told Kashmir Reader that the four family members killed have been identified as Habibullah Bahadur Lone, 50, his wife Azizi, 48, their daughter Gulshan Bano, 19, and their son Irfan, 17.
He said the single-storey house of the family was hit by an avalanche at 4 am. When the police’s rescue team reached the spot, they pulled out the family’s 18-year-old son alive. Gurez’s area had received above 5-foot snow.

More snow in next 24 hrs
Avalanche warning in higher reaches
300 electric transformers damaged
Scarcity of drinking water in Anantnag
Police launches rescue op in north Kashmir

A man died while his son received injuries when their house collapsed in Kupwara’s Kralpora village. The deceased was identified as Abdul Gani, son of Ghulam Mohammad Ganie of Kralpora. He was clearing snow from the rooftop of his house, which collapsed because of the weight of the snow, killing Ganie on the spot. His injured son was admitted to a hospital.
In another incident, an avalanche hit an army camp in Sonmarag area of Ganderbal district, resulting in the death of an army officer. In Ganderbal, a Territorial Army camp of 115 Bn came under snow avalanche, resulting in the death of Major Amit Sagar, police said. “Rescue operation is going on to save the rest of the persons,” police added.
Meanwhile, daily life was crippled across Kashmir after heavy snowfall continued in both hills and plains for the second consecutive day.
The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for traffic and all flights to and from Srinagar were cancelled.
“All the 28 flights scheduled for Wednesday were cancelled due to snowfall and poor visibility. Even though we tried to clear the runway, poor visibility forced us to cancel all the flights,” said Sharad Kumar, Director Srinagar Airport.
The continuous downpour and snowfall led to closure of the National Highway 1A. “We tried to allow traffic from Jammu to Srinagar but due to skidding and slippery conditions we closed the road. Tomorrow, in case the weather is fair, we would allow traffic from Jammu to Srinagar,” said SSP Traffic Fayaz Ahmad Lone.
Director of the state meteorological department, Sonum Lotus said that moderate to heavy snowfall would occur at most of the places in the state, particularly in the Pir Panjal areas, during the next 24 hours. He said there were chances of the weather improving after Friday afternoon.
Life came to standstill due to the heavy snowfall in many villages and remote areas that were completely cut-off from the rest of Kashmir. Several villages in Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla and Handwara have received heavy snowfall since Tuesday and the plains of Kashmir have received more than a foot of snow. The higher areas recorded two to three feet of snow on Wednesday.
Tuition-going students and office-goers complained of thin presence of public transport and their snail’s pace because of slippery roads.
Electricity remained cut off at several areas in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir.
Majority of the areas in north Kashmir were reeling under darkness from yesterday because of uprooting of electric poles and damage in power lines due to falling branches of trees at many places. People also complained of scarcity of potable water because of freezing of water pipes.
Even after the prediction of snowfall and the preparation made by the district administration, snow-clearance process in major places in north Kashmir had not taken place yet. Link roads to villages adjoining Sopore, Handwara, Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla have been totally cut off from district offices and towns.
Most of the business activities remained suspended in many areas, while damage to property was reported from some areas in north Kashmir.
In Gooripora in Bomai village of Sopore tehsil, a residential house of Haji Mohammad Maqbool was partially damaged after a chinar tree fell on it due to heavy snowfall, but there were no reports of any injury, said station house officer (SHO) of Bomai. An Ambulance vehicle skidded-off from road at Mirgund Narbal on Wednesday carrying a lady who had delivered a baby in Srinagar. However, nobody was injured.
Also, two residential houses of Ghulam Mohammad and Mohammad Haneef were damaged due to heavy snowfall at Ladoora area of Rafiabad in north Kashmir, but no injury was reported, said Tehsildar of Watergam in Fafiabad.
The Sub District Magistrate Sopore told media persons that they will try to clear roads in the main towns and district headquarters first, and after that, the link roads to different villages will be cleared.
“Also, we are doing our best to restore the electricity in main towns of north Kashmir. In villages it will take time because of the damage to electric poles and transmission wires,” he said. Five residential houses, Imambara, and seven cowsheds got damaged due to snow in Budgam district. Power supply was not restored the district.
Residents of several villages in Anantnag district complained of acute shortage of drinking water. The villagers also appealed to officials to look into the matter.
Avalanche warning
Divisional administration Kashmir Wednesday issued avalanche warning from January 25 to January 26 in upper reaches of the Valley. “High danger avalanche warning valid for next 24-hours from January 25 to January 26, 2017 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche prone slopes above 2800 meter attitude in Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, and Budgam districts” an official handout said.