Kashmir: Snow keeps highway shut, flights grounded

Five structures damaged in Kupwara, army patrol rescued in Machil, alert issued for next 24 hours


Srinagar/Baramulla/Anantnag: Fresh snowfall disrupted life in Kashmir on Saturday and continued to cause damage in the higher reaches of the Valley.
In Kupwara, five structures were damaged due to heavy snowfall, among them two residential houses, one of Irshad Ahmad Tantray and the other of Sher Khan in Dana Ring Payeen in Machil. The Darul-Aloom Hanfia Anwarya, Thandoosa, in Kralpora and residential houses belonging to Farooq Ahmad Lone, resident of Thandoosa, and of Mohammad Shafi Pord, resident of Dardpora in Kralpora, were damaged, said a police spokesman.
An avalanche hit Gurez’s Nerru village damaging three residential houses. The houses belonged to Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Mohammad Subhan Lone and Abdul Rasheed Lone. They were completely damaged. All the inmates, fortunately, escaped unhurt.
An earlier avalanche had killed 14 soldiers and four civilians in Gurez in the past two days. The bodies of the soldiers are yet to be sent to their native places because of continuous snowfall since Tuesday.
On Saturday, a patrolling party of five soldiers was rescued from under the snow in Kupwara’s Machil. “The soldiers are under treatment,” said Srinagar-based defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia.
The strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway remained shut for the fourth consecutive day due to heavy snowfall and rains which triggered landslides.
“In view of fresh rain and snowfall in Nowgam-Jawagar Tunnel and Zig-Jawahar Tunnel road stretches, followed by triggering of landslides at Sherbibi and Panthal, and keeping in view the condition of the road, no fresh movement of traffic shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar NHW on Sunday,” said a traffic handout.
It said that subject to clear weather, stranded vehicles will be cleared soon.
“All the Dy SsP/DTI’s/SOs Traffic are directed to ensure that no vehicles are parked/halted between Jawahar Tunnel (South portal) to Nowgam village and between Jawahar Tunnel (North portal) to Lower Munda under any circumstances. These areas being dangerous and avalanche zones should be kept free from any kind of traffic to avoid any eventuality,” the handout said.
Snowfall also affected flight operations at Srinagar Airport in the afternoon. Superintendent of Police (Airport) Manzoor Ahmad Dalal said that 10 flights were cancelled and 8 flights were able to arrive in Srinagar in the morning.
The regional meteorological department issued a forecast of moderate snowfall across the Valley for the next 24 hours.
The Kashmir Divisional Administration issued a medium-level avalanche warning for the next 24 hours in hilly and avalanche-prone areas in Kashmir Valley and Kargil district.
“Medium danger avalanche warning valid for next 24 hours from January 28 to January 29 exists for avalanche-prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Anantnag and Kargil districts of Kashmir Division,” an official statement said.
Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division, including Leh and Kargil, have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people to not venture out in avalanche-prone areas and to keep clearing snow depositions from the roofs of their houses and bunkers to avoid damage.