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Five killed in held Kashmir avalanche

February 09, 2019

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Kulgam: Residents, along with security personnel, search for bodies of missing policemen after the avalanche hit a police post at Qazigund Jawahar tunnel here on Friday.—AFP
Kulgam: Residents, along with security personnel, search for bodies of missing policemen after the avalanche hit a police post at Qazigund Jawahar tunnel here on Friday.—AFP

SRINAGAR: Three policemen were rescued on Friday while five bodies were recovered from an avalanche that buried 10 people in India-held Kashmir following two days of heavy snowfall, police said.

The avalanche hit a fire emergency facility on Thursday in the Banihal area of the occupied valley. Six police, two prisoners and two other personnel had taken refuge there during a storm.

Rescuers dug for hours through heavy snow to reach the trapped personnel.

The dead include two firefighters and three police, another official said, adding the search for two more policemen was ongoing.

The three rescued policemen have been taken to hospital, senior official Baseer Khan said.

Two other men died in the Ramban area after a landslide and falling stones hit them as they walked along a highway already blocked since Tuesday due to heavy rain and landslips, a police official said.

Another man died on Thursday when his home was buried under an avalanche in the southern Kukarnag area.

The avalanche in Banihal came after two days of heavy snowfall that cut electricity supply to many areas and blocked roads.

More than 50 flights in and out of the main city of Srinagar were cancelled.

Authorities have also started rationing petrol and diesel as supplies in the Kashmir valley are running low. Bad weather has disrupted essential supplies for two weeks.

The region suffers regular winter disasters.

On Jan 18, a massive avalanche hit a high-altitude mountain pass in the remote Ladakh area, near the border with China, killing 10 people. Rescuers took a week to retrieve the bodies.

Last year 11 civilians died in an avalanche at the Kupwara near the Line of Control. In 2017, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a series of avalanches.

In 2012, a wall of snow engulfed a camp below the Siachen glacier on the Pakistani side of the LoC, killing scores of people.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2019