Chopper, ropeway services to Mata Vaishno Devi suspended
State Times News Srinagar/Jammu: Rain and snowfall lashed many parts of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, with two people getting killed in an avalanche, officials said. A 12-year-old girl was among two killed and several women were reported missing after an avalanche struck a mountain village in Ramban district, officials said. Mohammad Rafiq (25) and Sumerna Mukhtiar (12) were found dead, while Fatha Begum (30) and Taja Begum (32) were reported missing, the officials said. The group was on way to their home when they were caught in the avalanche near Kawana-Trigam, 50 km from Ramban district headquarters, they said. The rescuers swung into action immediately after the avalanche struck the village, the officials said. The District Development Commissioner, Ramban, has sanctioned ex-gratia relief of Rs 4 lakh each in favour of next of kin of the deceased. The officials said the area experienced five feet of snow over the past two days and the snowfall was still continuing when last reports were received. Ramban town has witnessed snowfall for the first time in over a decade, they said. The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway — the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country — after an avalanche blocked both tubes of the Jawahar tunnel on the Qazigund side at 4.25 AM, police said. The minimum temperature in Srinagar last night settled at minus 0.2 degrees Celsius almost same as the previous night, the MET official said. He said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.8 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius last night. Rescue operations were launched to evacuate people stranded in the tunnel but there is no report of any casualty so far. Meanwhile, the chopper and ropeway services were shut due to snowfall and bad weather conditions at the Vaishnodevi, officials said. The Vaishnodevi shrine, located in the Trikuta hills, received this season’s first snowfall on Sunday even as pilgrims continued their journey to pay obeisance. “The chopper service and passenger and material ropeway have been closed due to snowfall and bad weather condition on Tuesday,” CEO of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), Simrandeep Singh said. Bhawan, Bhairon Ghati, Sanjichhat and Himkoti in Trikuta and the serpentine route received few inches of snow, shrine board officials said.
Despite the snowfall, over 12,861 pilgrims paid obeisance at the shrine and over 11,000 pilgrims are on their way to it, they said.
Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of 2.8 degrees Celsius — a big surprise for this time of the year when the normal minimum temperature is six to seven degrees below the freezing point.
The mercury in nearby Kargil settled at a low of minus 12.2 degrees Celsius.
Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad also issued a fresh avalanche warning in nine avalanche prone districts of Kashmir division.
The warning has been issued for the avalanche-prone areas in district Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh of J&K state.
As per the handout, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has asked the Deputy Commissioners of all these districts to advise the people living in avalanche prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
The Div Com also directed the concerned DCs to take all the precautionary measures and to keep the SDRF, Police and Para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness to avert any untoward incident.
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