4 killed as heavy snowfall throws life out of gear in Kashmir

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 11/8/2019 12:05:18 PM

People suffer as power, road links get snapped

SRINAGAR, Nov 7: Four persons, including two locals working as army porters, Thursday died in separate incidents in Kashmir following heavy snowfall which threw normal life out of gear and also disconnected it from rest of the country due to closure of arterial National Highway and disruption in air traffic.
People were forced to stay indoors without electricity as road links were snapped at many places.
According to traffic department officials, the roads which connected Srinagar with far-flung areas like Gurez, Macchil, Keran and Tangdhar too had also been closed due to adverse weather conditions.
Inclement weather conditions also claimed four lives. In the first incident, two porters identified as Manzoor Ahmed and Ishaq Khan died after coming under an avalanche near a forward post on the Line of Control in Kupwara district of North Kashmir.
Official sources said that two local porters slipped and fell from a mountain due to heavy snowfall at Jumgund sector in Kupwara on Thursday. “A search and rescue operation was immediately launched to
save the porters,” they said.
However, they said both the porters died after being buried under several feet of snow. “The bodies of the duo are being retrieved and will be handed over to their relatives for last rites,” they added.
In another incident, an employee of the Power Development Department (PDD) died while trying to restore power supply, which has been disrupted by heavy snowfall in Kashmir, officials said. Manzoor Ahmad, an inspector in the PDD, fell off a pole and died on the spot, the officials said.
They said the Srinagar district administration sanctioned an immediate ex-gratia relief of Rs two lakh in favour of the next of the kin of the deceased PDD employee. A pedestrian also died after he was hit by a branch of a Chinar tree which broke off under the weight of snow in Habak area of the city, the officials said. They said a cab and an autorickshaw were also damaged in the incident.
Heavy snow across Kashmir cut off the Valley from the rest of the country as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway too was closed for traffic while all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled, officials said here. Over 2,000 vehicles are stranded on the highway due to the closure.
The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the Valley woke up to unseasonal snow, setting in early winter chill in Kashmir as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time this season, an official of the MET department said. The snow disrupted life in Kashmir as power was snapped in the early hours.
A police official said there were reports of many trees and electric poles getting uprooted due to the heavy snow. While most of the vehicles remained off the roads, a few cars and cabs could be seen on the roads but drivers were facing difficulty in manoeuvring vehicles in view of the accumulation of snow. Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said the district administration had taken up restoration works on a war-footing.
“We have 45 machines on snow-clearance job while dewatering pumps have been put into service using generators to ensure there is no water-logging. As many 37 power stations have been restored so far while the remaining will be restored in the next few hours,” he said.
Srinagar received fresh spell of snowfall on Thursday which lead to a dip in temperature across Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier on Wednesday, the local weather office had said the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir will receive heavy rainfall in the plains during the next three days. The Met office had also issued an adverse weather advisory over the snowfall forecast. The Met office had also issued an adverse weather advisory over the snowfall forecast.
Srinagar city received around 11 cm of snow till 11.30 am while the Valley’s gateway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir received 12 cm of snowfall. Gulmarg, where snowfall began on Wednesday, recorded the highest snowfall of 62 cm so far, the official said. Higher reaches of Kashmir, including Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Kupwara, received the first snow on Wednesday while the plains were lashed by rain.
Fresh snowfall started early on Thursday in Srinagar as it recorded 0.5 degrees Celsius. Heavy spells were reported from the hills. Pahalgam and Gulmarg recorded minus 0.6 and minus 4 degrees, respectively.
The strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway remained closed for a second consecutive day due to the fresh snowfall in Banihal sector and landslides in Ramsoo-Ramban. The one-way traffic from Srinagar to Jammu which was allowed on Wednesday, was halted. Prices of essentials like vegetables, mutton and poultry products, have skyrocketed in the landlocked Kashmir Valley due to severing of road links.
Electric supply was interrupted in many parts of the valley, especially north Kashmir areas with the Power Department informing that efforts were on to restore snapped lines.
"The staff has been at it even in the midst of heavy snowing this time," Qazi Hashmat, Chief Engineer, maintenance and rural electrification Kashmir said.
He said at present the department is supplying 850 megawatts to consumers against the requirement of 1,200 MW in the valley.
The Met said a western disturbance active over Jammu and Kashmir is likely to weaken after 24 hours on Friday. "As the western disturbance persists, widespread snowfall and rain is expected today, though there should be signs of improvement later in the evening. Significant improvement is forecast from tomorrow onwards," a Met official said.
In the Ladakh region, Leh recorded minus 3.2, Kargil minus 16.4 and Drass minus 5.8 degrees Celsius.
Jammu was at 9.3, Katra 7, Batote minus 1.6, Banihal 0.2 and Bhaderwah was at minus 0.4 degrees Celsius.
“Due to the adverse weather conditions during the next two to three days, air and surface traffic is likely to be disrupted during this period. Surface transport between the Kashmir valley and the Ladakh region is likely to be disrupted because of heavy snowfall at the Zojila Pass," the Met department had said. Meanwhile, flight operations at Srinagar Airport were on Thursday disrupted due to heavy snowfall. Heavy snowfall has already started in Sonamarg and at the ski resort of Gulmarg since Wednesday morning while heavy rains lashed the valley during the previous night.



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