Home India News Rescue team sent to avalanche hit Kashmir village

Rescue team sent to avalanche hit Kashmir village


Srinagar : A joint army and police rescue team was dispatched Friday to an avalanche hit village in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir where about 40 people are trapped under the snow.

Authorities sent police personnel and soldiers of the 49 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) to Gulab Bagh (Gujjar Basti) village, about 85 km from here in the foothills of the Pir Panjal mountain range, after two people who escaped the avalanche that occurred early Friday managed to call for help.

“But the rescue team, which left for the village this morning, had to trek in zero visibility and continuous snowfall,” a police officer said.

“I am waiting to hear from them. The journey is hazardous, but we had no option after news reached us for help,” he said.

The officer said two people, including a child, have died in the village.

“We have reports that between 15 to 17 houses were buried in the village by the early morning avalanche. We have kept ready more rescue teams in case there is a need,” he added.

The officer said 600 villagers who were evacuated from the nearby avalanche prone Waltengu Nar village during the past four days have been temporarily lodged in school buildings here.

Several people were killed and many homes destroyed when avalanches struck Waltengu Nar in February 2005.

Eleven people have so far died during the last four days in incidents of house collapses and avalanches across the valley.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose official plane was the first to fly into the snow bound valley Thursday, has instructed Consumer Affairs Minister Taj Mohiuddin to remain stationed in the valley to supervise relief and rescue operations.

While Friday morning was sunny in Jammu after five days of heavy rains, it was overcast and snowing heavily in the upper reaches of the Jammu region.

“It is snowing heavily in Doda, Jawahar Tunnel and Gool Gulabgarh areas,” said Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Sudhanshu Pandey.

The valley continues to be blocked with the Jammu-Srinagar highway closed for the fifth day Friday and flights suspended for the fourth day.

Free food centres have been set up by the state administration for stranded passengers in the winter capital Jammu.

The administration has also made arrangements for the stranded passengers to fly free to Srinagar in civil and air force planes once the weather improves here.

People living in higher reaches and foothill villages have been asked to avoid unnecessary movements in these areas as the risk of avalanches remains very high.

The weather office held out little hope.

T.K. Jotshi, assistant director of the local weather office, told IANS: “This has been the heaviest February snowfall in the valley during the last five years.

“Same weather conditions are expected to continue during the next 24 hours.”