Windstorm causes widespread damage across Kashmir Valley (Lead)

March 20th, 2012 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, March 20 (IANS) A nightlong windstorm blew away hundreds of rooftops, uprooted an even greater number of trees and threw the Valley’s electric power supply system haywire, prompting the Jammu and Kashmir government to declare a high alert Tuesday.

Kashmir Divisional commissioner Asgar Hassan Samoon told reporters that all the departments of the state government have been put on high alert in the wake of the storm.

Although no loss of life has been reported so far from anywhere, the authorities are still collecting the details from various places.

“Maximum damage has been caused by the nightlong windstorm in Bandipora district of the Valley where hundreds of rooftops have been blown away and scores of trees uprooted. In Srinagar, the old city areas of Lal Bazaar and Soura have suffered the maximum damage to residential houses, business complexes, shops, school buildings and electricity transmission lines and poles,” Aamir Ali, officer on special duty at the divisional headquarters told IANS.

Muhammad Muzaffar Mattu, Kashmir’s chief engineer (electric maintenance), said: “Massive damage has been caused to our transmission systems, conductors and transformers at many places in the Valley. Although our major power import lines bringing in the supply from outside the Valley are intact, the distribution system has been very badly affected. Restoration will take some time although we have moved out everybody for restoration work.”

Most locals preferred to remain indoors as streets and markets remained almost deserted in Srinagar city Tuesday.

Junaid Kawoos, a senior bank official living in Omar colony residential area of Srinagar, said, “All of us were awake for the entire night. It looked as if the world would end. Literally everything shook around.”

Police has rescued more than two dozen tourists from the Dal Lake in Srinagar city where houseboats rocked precariously in the turbulent waters.

“All the rescued tourists are safe and they have been moved out of the Lake,” a police officer said here.

“Many houseboats have suffered damage because of the windstorm. In some cases, the occupants barely managed to escape with life as their houseboats were precariously jolted and rattled in the windstorm,” said Muhammad Azim Tuman, chairperson of the local houseboat owners’ association.

Three tourists from South India escaped injury in Pahalgam hill station after a pine tree collapsed on the hut in which they were lodged.

Many fallen Poplar and Chinar trees have blocked the roads in north Kashmir’s Baramulla and south Kashmir’s Anantnag districts, snapping the inter-district road connectivity.

Although the authorities closed down all government and private schools across the Valley in the wake of the windstorm, local colleges and universities were not included in this order which created a lot of confusion among thousands of students studying at these places.

After a tall, centuries old Chinar tree collapsed inside the Chinar Bagh complex of Kashmir University in Srinagar, authorities suspended all teaching work inside the University for the day.

“An unusually low pressure system developed over the valley yesterday (Monday). The windstorm is the result of this low pressure system. The weather should improve from Tuesday noon onwards,” an official of the local weather office told IANS.

Reports reaching here from Leh town of Ladakh region also said the nightlong windstorm had created panic there.

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