Kashmir remains cut off; snowfall disrupts flight services, closes highway
state times news Srinagar: At least 10 policemen were feared trapped inside their post after a avalanche struck Kulgam district near the Jawahar Tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway on Thursday evening, police said. The avalanche hit the north portal of Jawahar Tunnel on the Qazigund side, a police official said. While 10 policemen posted at the post near the tunnel were reported safe, 10 others are believed to be trapped, he said. The trapped persons include four JKP personnel, two officials of JKP’s dog squad and two firemen besides two prisoners. “Police rescue teams and other concerned agencies have been rushed to the site,” he added. Kashmir valley has been witnessing heavy snowfall since Wednesday with Kulgam district in south Kashmir receiving maximum precipitation in the last 24 hours. Some places in the district have received as much as five feet snow, officials said. The Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment has issued an avalanche warning of varying degrees to 16 of the 22 districts in Jammu and Kashmir for the next 24 hours. High danger avalanche warning has been issued to Anantnag, Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam, Ganderbal, Kulgam and Kupwara districts in the valley, while medium danger warning was issued to Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Udhampur and Leh districts. A low danger warning was issued for Kargil district. The heavy snowfall threw normal life out of gear in Kashmir due to disruption in essential services as the valley remained cut off for the second consecutive day as the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed and flight services were cancelled at the airport here. Continuous snowfall in Kashmir over the past 24 hours has resulted disruption of essential services in most of the districts in the valley with electricity supply infrastructure suffering severe damage, officials said. “We are on the job to restore the damaged infrastructure but the quantum of damage is very large and it will take some time to restore electricity back to normal,” an official of the divisional administration said. The snowfall, which ranged between six inches in Srinagar to nearly three feet in some areas of South Kashmir, has blocked many roads within the valley, the official said. He said snow clearance operations were started before dawn and all vital routes were cleared by the time people ventured out for daily activities. “However, the snowfall has been continuous and in some areas we have to repeat the snow clearance exercise,” he added. Social media was abuzz with videos depicting the difficulty faced by people due to snowfall. A video from Adoora village in Baramulla in which a pregnant woman is being carried to a hospital on a make-shift stretcher through knee-deep snow, has gone viral. Many videos of cars slipping on the roads in the city have also been widely shared as the residents accused the administration of being unprepared even after MeT department forecast of heavy snowfall from 5-7 February. “Due to bad weather and heavy snowfall at Srinagar Airport, all flights were cancelled for today,” an official of the Airport Authority of India said. The traffic control department said the arterial Srinagar-Jammu road remained closed for the second day due to accumulation of snow around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides at several places in Ramban District. “The traffic has been suspended on the highway due to piling of snow on either side of the tunnel and also landslides triggered by rains at several places, ” the official of the traffic department said. He said a decision on resuming traffic will be taken only after snow and debris of landslides is cleared and the weather improves. The Srinagar administration has issued helpline numbers for the information of the general public requiring assistance in view of the prevalent weather situation in the district. The general public has been asked to contact the following numbers in case of eventualities: DC Office Srinagar 0194-2477033/2452182/9419042342/7051112345, R&B 0194-2313751/7006003383, Fire & Emergency Services 0194-2479488/101/9419251908, MED 0194-2497458/9596193550/9419059311, PDD 0194-2452001/9419008002/9419019634/9419033244, UEED 0194-2500444, SMC 0194-2474499/18001807038, PHE 0194-2452047/9596046111, Health 0194-2452498/9906540795/941900484, Drainage 9906621818, CAPD 0194-2455019, Police Control Room 0194-2452092/100 and Traffic Control Room 0194-2450022. Deputy Commissioner, Dr Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, said that response mechanism to deal with the situation having arisen from the inclement weather situation in the district has been fully activated and that all line departments including MED, PWD, PHE, SMC, PDD, UEED, Traffic and Health are on the ground in efforts to restore the affected services. He said the concerned departments are under strict instructions to ensure swift snow-clearance and dewatering of all roads and lanes especially those leading to important installations like hospitals and receiving stations and that the Traffic department has been directed to ensure maximum police deployment for effective handling of traffic situation and movement in the City. The DC said all the line departments have established control rooms for the convenience of the general public and all of them are under strict instructions to deploy adequate men and machinery on the ground and work in close coordination amongst themselves. He said that Assistant Commissioner Revenue Srinagar and Sub Divisional Magistrates East and West have been designated as nodal officers to monitor the situation within their areas of jurisdiction.
Man dies in Kokernag avalanche, wife trapped
ANANTNAG: A man died after avalanche hits his house at Sanbradi Magam in Kokernag area of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on late Thursday evening. As per reports, avalanche hit the residential house of Bashir Ahmad Qureshi, son of Noor Mohammad Qureshi, resident of Sanbradi Magam of Kokernag. Bashir died while rescuers were trying hard to rescue his wife till the last reports received.
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