16 army soldiers killed in north Kashmir avalanches (Roundup)

February 23rd, 2012 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Feb 23 (IANS) Sixteen Indian Army soldiers were killed in two avalanches overnight in two districts of north Kashmir, an army officer said Thursday.

“Thirteen bodies have been recovered so far from the avalanche debris in Dawar (Gurez) area of Bandipora district. Three soldiers are still believed to be under the debris. Efforts are on to locate them,” a defence spokesman told IANS.

A massive rescue operation was started after an avalanche struck the workshop of the army’s brigade headquarters in Dawar (Gurez) overnight.

Thirteen army soldiers were rescued alive during the rescue operation. They have since been shifted to hospital for treatment as many of them have sustained injuries in the avalanche.

Two dozen army vehicles have also been damaged by the avalanche and around 4 barracks destroyed.

In another avalanche that struck an army camp in Ganderbal district’s Sonamarg hill station overnight, three soldiers including a junior commissioned officer of the Territorial Army died.

In a third avalanche that struck the Ramwari area of Ganderbal district, dozens of summer hutments of nomadic ‘Bakerwals’ (goatherds) used during the grazing season were destroyed.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Defence Minister A.K. Antony have expressed grief over the loss of lives.

Only last week, a major tragedy was averted when an avalanche blocked the passage of water in the Sindh stream in Sonamarg.

A glacial lake was formed by the accumulated water. As the authorities prepared to carry out controlled blasting of the avalanche, the accumulated water finally managed its way through thereby averting major flash floods in the low-lying areas of Ganderbal district.

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