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Winter's lowest at - 23.6 deg C

delhi Updated: Jan 02, 2011 20:29 IST

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Leh town in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday saw mercury nosediving to this winter's lowest of minus 23.6 deg C as an intense cold wave gripped northern India, claiming at least eight lives.

"Leh recorded a minimum temperature of minus 23.6 deg C which is the coldest this winter," a Met department official said.

The cold wave has also intensified in Gulmarg skiing resort in north Kashmir and Pahalgam resort in south Kashmir, where mercury plunged 12 degrees below freezing point -- the coldest night in both the tourist spots this winter.

Qazigund, the gateway town to Kashmir Valley, was freezing at minus 7.4 deg C while Kokernag town in Anantnag district recorded a night temperature of minus six deg C.

Srinagar, which saw a minimum of 0.8 degrees above melting point of ice yesterday, plunged to minus 2.4 deg C.

Meanwhile, two-way traffic has resumed on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only road link between Kashmir and rest of the country.

Delhi shivered on yet another cold morning as the maximum dropped to 14.6 deg C, six degrees below normal for this period of time, while minimum was recorded at 7.8 degrees, one degree above normal, the MeT office said.

Five more deaths were reported in different parts of Uttar Pradesh as mercury dipped sharply due to showers at a few places in the state taking the toll to 24.

While a 70-year-old man and a two-year-old boy died in Bahraich and Farukkhabad districts respectively, one death each was reported from Sitapur, Mahoba and Chitrakoot due to cold in the last 24 hours, official sources said.

Three deaths were reported from Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite a clear and sunny day, mercury dropped further in Himachal Pradesh where all the major towns in lower hills reeled under the cold wave.

Water in taps froze at many places in lower and mid hills and thick ground frost occurred in mid and higher hills.

Sunder Nagar and Bhuntar recorded a low of minus 1.5 deg C, minus 1.3 deg C and minus 0.3 deg C, respectively. Shimla recorded a low of 1.7 degree C.

Keylong, headquarter of tribal Lahaul and Spiti district experienced its coldest night with temperature dipping to minus 12.9 deg C.

Nahan in Sirmaur district recorded a low of 2.1 deg C, five degree below normal while Mandi, Palampur and Dharamsala recorded minimum temperature at 2.3 deg C, 2.6 deg C and 3.1 deg C, two to three degree below normal.

The roads and high mountain passes of Rohtang and Kunzam providing access to the valley were completely blocked due to 200 cm to 300 cm of snow.

Cold wave swept Rajasthan with Mount Abu recording a low of minus 4.2 deg C, making it the most coldest place in the desert state.