6 soldiers among 12 killed in series of avalanches in Kashmir

At least 12 people, including a Border Security Force (BSF) constable and five army personnel were killed in separate avalanches in the Kashmir valley following heavy snowfall, officials said on Tuesday.

The valley has been witnessing snowfall and heavy rains since Sunday which triggered a series of avalanches on Monday in north and central Kashmir.

There was unprecedented snowfall in north Kashmir, particularly in Sadhna in Tanghdar (Kupwara district), Z-Gali in Machil (Kupwara district), and Razdan in Gurez (Bandipora district). These areas are covered under 10 feet of snow.

At least four avalanches struck north Kashmir’s frontier district of Kupwara, close to Line of Control (LoC), on Monday.

An army post of the 45 Rashtriya Rifles at Badi Behak in Kupwara’s Machil was buried under snow on Monday afternoon, police and army officials said. Five soldiers were trapped under the snow following which the army launched a rescue operation.

“Three bodies have been retrieved, one soldier is stable and the fifth one is still missing. Rescue operations are on to trace the missing soldier,” said senior superintendent of police, Kupwara, Shriram Ambarkar Dinkar. The fifth soldier was found dead late on Tuesday evening.

“The avalanche has happened in a very remote area where communication is very slow. We are making all efforts to get the latest details,” he said.

In Nowgam sector of Kupwara on Monday evening, a Border Security Force personnel was swept away in an avalanche. “He was swept away by the snow and was found three hours later. Doctors declared him brought dead,” BSF official NS Bopa Roy said. The deceased was identified as constable Ganga Bara from Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. Four houses were damaged in another avalanche in Kupwara’s Lolab valley.

Another avalanche hit Ajit post in Tangdhar of Kupwara in which six soldiers were trapped. Officials said five of them were rescued while one soldier lost his life. Officials said an avalanche struck Kulan Nar on the Highway in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Monday evening burying nine civilians.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal Hashmat Ali Khan said a rescue operation was launched by police, army, CRPF and local volunteers who managed to pull out four persons.

“The people were walking on the road when the avalanche struck. Four were rescued but unfortunately five civilians died in the incident,” Khan said. “Two bodies were retrieved on Monday evening while three others were found around 4 am in the morning,” he said.

The weather improved in Kashmir valley on Tuesday with resumption of flights in the afternoon at Srinagar International Airport after snow was cleared from the runway.