One tourist guide dead, three trapped in avalanche in Kashmir

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2015 20:24 IST

A major avalanche in Kashmir’s world-famous ski resort of Gulmarg on Wednesday left one tourist guide dead and three trapped.

Around 1:20 pm, an avalanche hit popular Affarwat ski range’s Trahjan Pass in Gulmarg, 55 km north of Srinagar.

The snow avalanche hit four people under, including one guide and three skiers, at the height of 14,000 feet above the sea level.

“One person got buried six-and-a-half feet under the snow. Immediately, a ski-chopper spotted the avalanche spot and brought him up,” Gulmarg deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Anwar-ul-Haq said.

“However, he had instantly died in the avalanche that brewed from two sides and took him in its vortex. All other skiers spotted in nearby area were safe,” he added.

The victim has been identified as 28-year-old Bashir Ahmad Bakshi, a resident of Tangmarg’s Watalpora area, who works as a tourist guide.

The exact location of the incident, Happatkhud, is prohibited area for skiers given its vulnerability to avalanches.

According to the tourism official, the pass been declared as back-country area by the tourism department, which means it is prohibited to ski there because no blasting was carried out in such area to avoid avalanches.

A warning was also issued to hundreds of skiers camping in Gulmarg to avoid venturing into the back-country area, said a tourism official.

Several hotels were also checked to look for any missing local or foreign skier. Hundreds of skiers are camping at the ski destination, including school children on ski course camps.

On January 24, a Swiss national died and five of his associates were rescued after being hit by an avalanche between Kongdoori and Afferwath.

National Conference provincial president Nasir Aslam Wan asked the authorities to ensure that all skiers in the area are accounted for promptly.

“All possible safety guidelines are strictly adhered to in order to prevent such incidents,” said Aslam, while expressing grief over the death at the prominent tourist destination of the valley, thronged by tourists from across the globe.

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