White terror: Two killed as snowfall wreaks havoc in Kashmir
Several houses damaged, dozens rescued
Srinagar: A CRPF officer and a 74-year-old woman died on Wednesday in separate incidents triggered by heavy snowfall in Kashmir, police said. Meanwhile, the massive snowfall created fear among people as several houses collapsed across Kashmir valley resulting in loses in crores. The people across the valley also witnessed trouble as all the roads remained buried under the snow.
Reports said that a massive block of snow fell from a roof and buried a 74-year-old woman just outside her residence in Trehgam area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Wednesday.
Reports said that the woman, Rahmi Begam wife of Abdul Subhan Malik of Shah Mohalla Trehgam, had just ventured outside her house as a chunk of snow accumulated on their roof fell, burying her. She was dead before the family could evacuate her, they said.
A senior officer said that the woman was buried under the snow slide from the rooftop of her home. However, the officer said that a police party has been deputed to the area to carry out further investigations in this regard.
Meanwhile, a CRPF Sub Inspector died on duty after a shed collapsed at a former National Conference legislator’s house in Hazratbal area of Srinagar.
Official sources said that the CRPF Sub-Inspector H C Murmu of 115 battalion was grievously injured after the shed outside the residence of the former MLA Hazratbal Syed Mohmmad Akhoon caved in due to heavy snowfall. He was removed to nearby SDH Hazratbal wherefrom he was referred to SKIMS Soura. However, he was declared brought dead on arrival at the tertiary care hospital, they said.
The paramilitary sub-inspector was on guard duty when the incident took place.
The massive snowfall also led to loses of crores of rupees as several houses were damaged in several areas including that of Srinagar.
Reports said that dozens of houses suffered extensive damages as many rooftops caved in owing to the heavy weight of the snow that had got accumulated over them.
They said that three residential houses were damaged due to heavy snowfall in Uri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Reports said that the residential houses that were damaged belong to Abdul Latief Barwal of Nambla Uri, Syeda Raza Fatima and Syed Gulzar Hussain of Dani Seydan Uri.
An official said that there was no loss of life or injury reported in the incident as the villagers reached the spot immediately and rescued the families.
A senior administrative official said that instructions have been issued to a team constituted for the purpose to carry out the assessment of the damage caused by the snow.
Two residential houses collapsed Tuesday late night due to heavy snowfall in Khag area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Officials said that the residential houses that were damaged due to heavy snowfall belong to Reyaz Ahmad Sheikh and Gulam Mohidin Bhat.
An official said that there was, however, no injury reported in the incident, as the villagers reached the spot immediately and rescued the families.
A senior official said that they have given instructions that a team will be sent to the spot and assistance will be provided to the families.
A residential house was damaged due to heavy snowfall in Kurhama Ganderbal district on Wednesday morning.
Reports said that that the two storey residential house of Ali Mohammad Bhat son of Ghulam Ahmad Bhat got damaged due to snow however, no loss of life or injury was reported in the incident.
Soon after the incident, the neighbours immediately evacuated the family members.
An official said that a team has been constituted to assess the damage of the house and arrangements are being made to shift the family to safer place.
Several house also collapsed in various areas of Srinagar city.
Meanwhile, two families had a narrow escape on Wednesday after their residential houses got damaged due to heavy snowfall in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Locals said that two residential houses at Gazriyal and Shirhama Lach in Kupwara were completely damaged and the respective family members had a narrow escape today.
At Shirhama Lach locality of Qalamabad, the locals said that the house belonging to Shabir Ahmad Shah, son of Mohammad Maqbool Shah got damaged, and the family members, however, managed to escape unhurt.
They said that the concerned District Development Council (DDC), Khurshid Ahmad Dar has reached the spot to assess the losses.
At Gazriyal locality of Kralpora belt, locals said that the house belonging to Mohammad Akbar Lone, son of Mahad Lone got fully damaged after a tree fell on it.
The incident happened due to the heavy snowfall in the area, they said, adding said that the family members, however, managed to escape and no injury was reported in the incident.
The families urged the divisional administration to look into the matter at the earliest and provide assistance to them amid harsh winter season.
Meanwhile, authorities evacuated 22 families in avalanche-prone area of Kulgam and accommodated them in a school in the south Kashmir district.
Officials said that 22 families of Marisle Nallah Kund were evacuated and accommodated in the Government Middle School in view of avalanche warning in the area. The step has been a precautionary one to prevent any loss of life, they added.
Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Authority (DMA) has issued medium and low level avalanche warnings for higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir.
As per a communiqué received in this regard, medium level avalanche warning has been issued for higher reaches of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara and Bandipora districts besides Waltengu Nad, South and North portals of Jawahar Tunnel, Verinag, Kapran, Chowkibal-NC Pass, Gurez, Dawar and Neeru areas.
Similarly, low level avalanche warning has been issued for upper reaches of Udhampur, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Sonamarg – Zojila, Z-Gali- Kalaroose, Kanzalwan, Tangmarg and Gulmarg.
As such, people living in these avalanche prone areas are advised not to venture out to avoid loss of lives.
Meanwhile, Kashmir remained cut off from rest of the country for the fourth consecutive day as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the Mughal road remained closed, while air traffic was suspended due to heavy snowfall across the valley.
The snowfall began on Sunday and continued in many areas when last reports came in, even as the MET Office said the weather is likely to improve later in the day.
“No traffic was allowed on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to accumulation of snow and landslides at many places,” an official of the traffic control room said.
He said the highway was blocked due to snow accumulation at Jawahar Tunnel and landslides/mudslides/shooting stones at Samroli, Magarkot, Panthyal, Marog, Cafeteria Mor, Dhalwas and Nashri.
The snow clearance operations were in full swing and efforts were on to restore movement of stranded vehicles along the 260 kilometre road, the official said.
Mughal Road, which connects the valley to Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis, has been closed for several days due to heavy snowfall in the region, officials said.
The officials said south Kashmir’s Kulgam district received highest snowfall with five to six feet of snow accumulated at some places.
Anantnag district has also received heavy snowfall, they said.
The areas in south Kashmir, followed by central, received heavy snowfall compared to the areas in the north of the valley, the officials said.
Srinagar city has witnessed heavy snowfall for the past three days, even as the snow clearance operations have been ongoing along inter-district routes as well as major roads linking tehsil headquarters to district headquarters.
While the administration has ensured that most of the essential services were least affected, the heavy snowfall has resulted in snapping of electricity in many areas across the valley, the officials said.
There was less movement of traffic due to slippery roads.
People across the valley accused the administration of failing to restore the mobility of people and vehicles as all the roads remained buried under the snow.
Meanwhile, the flight operations to and from Srinagar remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day due to poor visibility and accumulation of snow, the officials said.
However, the MET Office has said the weather is likely to improve from later on Wednesday.
Weather is improving gradually and the significant improvement is expected from today afternoon onwards, a MET official said.
He said light rain/snow may occur at scattered places of Jammu and Kashmir over the next 24 hrs.
However, there was no forecast of any major snowfall from Thursday till January 14, he said.
The minimum temperature improved in most places in the valley due to the snowfall but still stayed below the freezing point, the officials said.
Srinagar city — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 0.9 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 3.5 degrees Celsius compared to minus 4 degrees Celsius a night earlier.
Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.2 degrees Celsius.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 0.7 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.0 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).
Pertinently, the authorities said that the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only road link connecting Kashmir Valley with the outside world, shall remain closed for traffic tomorrow as well due to the accumulation of snow around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides at several places en route the thoroughfare.
“On January 7, no vehicular movement shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar highway from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice-versa in view of snow accumulation around the Jawahar Tunnel, landslides/shooting stones/mudslides at Samroli, Dalwas, Cafeteria Morh, Sitaram Passi, Bai Nallah, Digdol Army Camp, Magerkot, Gangroo, Salad,” a traffic department official said.
Over 4000 vehicles are still stranded at several places along the highway, reports said. (with inputs from PTI, agencies)