Home India News 1,700 stranded passengers airlifted, highway re-opened in Kashmir

1,700 stranded passengers airlifted, highway re-opened in Kashmir


Srinagar : Nearly 1,700 stranded passengers were airlifted between here and Jammu by the Indian Air Force Saturday even as the strategic national highway connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of India was reopened Saturday six days after its closure.

“Arrangements have been made to airlift around 5,000 stranded passengers between Jammu and Srinagar with the help of the air force,” a senior officer said here.

Meanwhile, working against heavy odds, the border roads organization re-opened the Jammu-Srinagar highway for light vehicular traffic Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of stranded vehicles have already crossed the Jawahar Tunnel area to reach the valley, a traffic officer told IANS here.

Thousands of Srinagar bound passengers were stuck in the winter capital after the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only road link to the Kashmir valley, was closed Monday due to heavy snowfall triggering landslides on the road.

Reports pouring in from different parts of the valley said electricity had still not been restored in most areas, though bright sunshine brought some relief to the people after a week of heavy snowfall.

“We had respite after seven days of snowfall today (Saturday) as the clouds parted, bringing on the sun in Kashmir,” said T.K. Jotshi, assistant director with the weather department.

“Fair weather conditions are going to continue for at least three days. Because of clear night skies, the minimum temperature, which had risen because of the cloud cover, has again started falling. It was minus three degrees Celsius in Srinagar today (Saturday),” said Jotshi.

Jotshi, however, warned of more snow avalanches in the higher reaches of the valley.

Meanwhile, the death toll in avalanches and roof collapses across the state has risen to 19. The civil administration has sought the assistance of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force in relief and rescue operations.

Consumer Affairs Minister Taj Mohiuddin told reporters that there were enough stocks of foodstuffs, petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas to last for two months.

“There is no reason to panic. We have enough stocks in the valley to last for two months,” the minister said.