Avalanche in Kashmir kills 3, hundreds stranded along snow bound highway

February 8th, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by admin  

Srinagar, Feb 8 (ANI): At least three people have been killed and fifteen others trapped in a snow avalanche in Kazigund of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.
According to official sources, the mishap occurred due to heavy snowfall triggering off landslides.
According to reports, rescue and relief operations are on and fifteen people have been rescued so far.
The administration has already been put on alert.
For more than a week, the Valley has been cut off from the rest of the country as road and air links have been badly disrupted.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained blocked today leaving thousands of people stranded.
Serpentine queues of trucks along the route were a common sight as stranded drivers and passengers complained of lack of drinking water, food and shelter.
“We are stranded here for the past seven days. There is no food. Around 400 to 500 trucks are stranded here due to snowfall. There has been no help from the government. All our money is exhausted and supplies are dwindling. We are facing a lot of problems,” said Mohammed Akbar, a truck driver.
Biting cold added to the woes of these drivers as they battled the chill while looking forward to the opening of the highway.
“The cold is a big problem for us. There is no arrangement for shelter or food. We are seven people living in three trucks. We are facing a lot of problems here,” added Mohammed Ishtiaq, another truck driver.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said that steps were being taken to provide free food to the stranded passengers.
“Many people are stranded in Jammu who are waiting to come here. We are arranging free food service for them at airport and bus stops. We are also keeping Air Force on standby so that once the weather improves we can use Air Force aircraft along with civilian aircraft to ferry the passengers,” said Azad.
Kashmir valley depends heavily on daily imports of necessities and the blocking of the highway has caused scarcity in markets, skyrocketing prices of essentials.
Though the first snowfall had excited and enthralled the residents, the persistent sub-zero temperature has brought life to a complete standstill.
Fresh snowfall in the Jawahar Tunnel area and landslides in Panthial are hampering road restoration efforts by the Border Roads Organisation. (ANI)

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