86 passengers rescued as landslides block Jammu-Srinagar highway
Heavy rains in plains and snow in the upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir continued to disrupt normal life on Saturday.
Fresh landslides were witnessed at around a dozen places on Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Poor visibility also affected flights in Srinagar.
“All the 40 flights scheduled to operate at the Srinagar airport had to be cancelled due to snowfall,” an official of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) said.
He said that snowfall had reduced visibility to less than 600 metres at the airport.
Jammu-Srinagar national highway was blocked due to overnight rains and snow that triggered fresh slides in Ramban district.
“From Nashri to Banihal, NH-44 is completely blocked due to landslides, mainly at Cafeteria Morh, Sita Ram Passi in Maroge and Chanderkote. There are shooting stones at multiple locations,” said SSP traffic, national highway, Shabir Malik.
“About 50 light motor vehicles (LMVs) were left stranded due to the closure of the highway. A number of trucks also remained stranded while some 300 trucks carrying essential supplies to Kashmir including fuel and fresh vegetables were cleared,” Malik said.
He said that 86 passengers, who were left stranded at Sita Ram Passi, were rescued in the wee hours of Saturday and shifted to a community hall in Ramban.
The train service between Banihal and Baramulla section was also suspended.
“Snow has accumulated in subdivision Banihal, Ramsu, Gool and therefore people are advised to stay indoors,” said MeT advisory.
Jammu-Poonch highway was also closed after fresh snowfall on Saturday.
Mughal Road, another highway connecting Kashmir with Jammu via Rajouri, has been also closed due to accumulation of more than three feet of snow.
Vaishno Devi cave shrine in Trikuta hills witnessed fresh snowfall on Saturday morning. “The yatra is on from the old traditional route. However, battery car service on Himkoti Marg and helicopter services remain suspended due to inclement weather,” said an official.
Jammu city and other plains were lashed by heavy rains in the past 24 hours.
The hilly areas of Jammu, including Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Doda, Reasi, Poonch and Rajouri, experienced major snowfall, disrupting normal life.
A head constable, Abdul Rashid, was injured when an official vehicle of a police officer rolled down a gorge at Patnitop on Friday evening.
The MeT office has issued ‘orange’ alert for J&K on Saturday.
“Currently, it is snowing and raining at most places of J&K. Present weather is most likely to continue for next 12 hours. Expect gradual decrease in rain and snow from Saturday evening. There will be a significant improvement from Sunday morning,” said Sonam Lotus, director of the MeT office.
6-month-old washed away in Kathua
A six month old baby boy was washed away in a flashflood in Kathua’s Malhar on Saturday. Kathua SSP Ramesh Kotwal said, “Despite heavy rains and swollen rivers, a family was crossing a nullah in Billawar area on Saturday, when the boy slipped out of the lap of his mother.”
In Kashmir, the impact of snow was more in southern parts of the valley and upper reaches. Some places in south Kashmir witnessed more than 2 feet of snow.
Dozens of snow clearance machines were pressed into service in Srinagar city and other townships. At several places in Valley, the snowfall disrupted electricity. However, in most of the areas, power was restored by the evening.
“In an unprecedented Snow Clearance Exercise, @SMC_Srinagar cleared around 6013 roads, lanes, and bye-lanes in all 74 wards of Srinagar city by 12:00 noon today. The clearance was done throughout the night, early morning and still continues,” Srinagar mayor Junaid Azim Mattu said in a tweet.