Monday, February 13, 2012

Heavy snowfall in Valley

NH blocked, flights disrupted; SASE issues avalanche warning

A woman was killed and her seven family members were injured in house collapse at Rajouri while snow avalanche struck Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Shaitani nallah damaging nine shops with traffic coming to grinding halt on the highway.

A woman was killed while seven members of her family had a narrow escape when a Kutcha house in which they were putting up collapsed due to heavy snowfall and rains in Gundi Khawas area of Rajouri district, this afternoon.

Official sources said that eight members of a family including three children were buried under the debris of a kutcha house, which caved in due to heavy snowfall and rains in Gundi Khawas area of Rajouri district, at 3 PM, today. All of them were sitting in the house when the roof collapsed with big band. Hearing sound, hundreds of villagers rushed to the spot and started rescue operation. Some of them informed Primary Health Center (PHC) Khawas and a team of Medical Assistants headed by Dr Atul Sharma along with necessary medicare kits rushed to the spot.

As soon as the victims were evacuated from the debris, the doctor and para-medical staff provided them treatment on the spot, thus saving their precious lives.

However, one woman identified as Kailash Devi, 25, wife of Mukhtiyar Singh died while her husband Mukhtiyar Singh, son of Sheetal Singh and brother-in-law Chain Singh, mother-in-law Guddo Devi, sister-in-law Kirna Devi and three children Sachin Singh, Bachan Singh and Samiksha all residents of Gundi Khawas were injured.

The injured were later shifted to PHC Khawas where condition of two injured Mukhtiyar Singh and Guddo Devi was said to be critical. The doctors were unable to refer them to District Hospital Rajouri as the area was cut off from the rest of the world due to snowfall.

Reports said that upper reaches of Rajouri and Poonch district experiences heavy snow with rains in plains since yesterday.

Jk News correspondent Banihal Khawaja Sharjeel said that seven shops and two hotels (dhabas) were washed away after a snow avalanche struck the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Shatani nallah area of Banihal, this evening. Three trucks passing-by had a narrow escape while no loss to life has been reported as the owners of all these establishments were already asked to vacate and move to safer areas. The stretch at which the avalanche struck at 4.05 PM is already ‘avalanche prone’ and the authorities have directed the people running shops there to shut down their establishments.

Official sources said that 110 meters long, 25 meters wide and 4 meters high snow avalanche struck at Shatani nallah and damaged all seven shops and 2 hotels. By the quick and prompt action of BECON and DySP Traffic BK Ganju, three trucks, which fled away from Tethar (Banihal) managed to cross the avalanche prone area prior to the incident. These trucks were brought to Nowgam (Banihal).

OC BECON Vohra told KTNS that their men will clear this avalanche with in two to three hours tomorrow morning in case of fair weather condition. In the radius of fifty meters there is threat of two more avalanches which can struck at Shatani Nallah, he added.

Meanwhile, 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has been closed due to snowfall on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel. Almost two-and-a-half feet of snow has accumulated at Jawahar tunnel, one feet at Patnitop and one and half feet at Banihal.

Snow once again disrupted vehicular traffic on the highway from the wee hours at about 1 AM. Due to slippery road conditions, traffic authorities stopped the traffic. They decided to stop vehicular traffic at national highway 1-A at Ramban, Banihal and Qazigund as precautionary measures due to slippery conditions from Shatani nallah (Banihal) to Jawahar tunnel and from Varinag zig to Jawahar tunnel and danger of snow avalanche and shooting stones.It was snowing heavily at Jawahar Tunnel since last night.  As per traffic authorities, 450 vehicles were stranded from Jawahar tunnel to Batote with 24 vehicles including four trucks loaded with Chicken at Jawahar tunnel and 21 at Banihal.

Fifth spell of snow started at 9 PM at Banihal, Patnitop, Batote, Gool and Shangaldan areas. Due to continues snowing 1.6 inches snow accumulated at Banihal, 1 feet at Patnitop, 4 inches at Batote, 2.5 feet at Jawahar Tunnel and Gool, 5 feet at Mahoo, 4.5 feet at Mangit and 6 inches at Ramsu.

Meanwhile, passenger vehicles of Ramban, Doda and trucks were allowed to move towords Ramban and Doda from Kud at about 2:30 PM. No Srinagar based vehicles were allowed to move from Kud. BECON authorities today started removing snow at 6 AM on both sides from Varinag zig to Jawahar tunnel and from Jawahar tunnel to Nowgam, Banihal.
OC BECON Vohra told KTNS that the removal of snow at NH-1A started at 6 AM. “We have cleared snow from Jawahar Tunnel to Khooni nallah and from Jawahir Tunnel to Anantnag. But, due to continues snowfall more snow got accumulated. “If snowfall stopped we will clear national highway with in an hour. We have pressed into service five Bulldozers, two snow cutters, one snow flower and two tippers which are working from Jawahar tunnel to Khooni nallah for clearence of snow and land slides,” he added.

It was snowing at Jawahir tunnel and Banihal till last reports came in.

Jk Newscorrespondent DS AHMAD reported from Srinagar that Kashmir valley on Monday received a fresh snowfall. Met department reports said many areas in North and South Kashmir received light to moderate snowfall while rains lashed the plains across the valley since last evening.

The capital city Srinagar also received few inches of snow. The authorities issued the avalanche warning in many hilly areas of the valley and asked the people living in these areas to refrain from venturing out of their houses. While the hill resort Gulmarg 12 to 18 inches of snow the world famous tourist spot Pahalgam received 15 to 18 inches. DH Pora area of Kulgam district received 9 inches while Kulan received 7 inches of snow.

Kupwara, Kulgam, VailooYusmarg, Charasharief and received 4 to 5 inches of snow while 2 to 3 inches were recorded in Anantnag and Tral. Authorities said that snow clearance operation was started on war footing basis and most of the roads across the valley were restored for traffic.

Following the snowfall, SASE, the divisional disaster management authority issued a medium danger avalanche warning for higher reaches of Banihal, Gulmarg, Chowkibal Tangdar, Keran, Machil and Gurez areas.
“People living in these areas are being advised not to venture out in avalanche prone zones and take precaution,” said a press release issued by the coordinator, Disaster management cell, Amir Ali.
The authorities also closed the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway the only road link connecting valley with rest of the world putting at halt hundreds of heavy and light vehicles along the road at many places.

“The Beacon authorities are putting up their efforts to clear the road and once the road is cleared we will restore the traffic,” he said. Reports said that at least three hundred heavy vehicles including trucks and load carriers are stranded between the Qazigund.

Reports said that air traffic with the Valley, had got affected in the morning, but was restored in the afternoon and all flights operated, except the morning Go-Air flight which got cancelled. The Kargil Courier between Srinagar and Kargil got cancelled, due to bad weather.

Trucks and the taxis were stranded on the highway and hundreds of Kashmir-bound passengers are stranded at the General Bus Stand Jammu due to the blocked highway.

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