Rain-triggered landslides block Jammu-Srinagar highway

Updated on Jul 29, 2022 03:37 AM IST

The annual Amarnath Yatra was briefly disrupted after the closure of the 270-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway after incessant rainfall triggered landslides, mudslides and shooting stones in Ramban

On Thursday morning, the 28th batch comprising 1,602 pilgrims left Jammu for the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas (ANI)
On Thursday morning, the 28th batch comprising 1,602 pilgrims left Jammu for the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas (ANI)
By, Jammu

The annual Amarnath Yatra was briefly disrupted on Thursday after the closure of the 270-km-long Jammu-Srinagar national highway after incessant rainfall triggered landslides, mudslides and shooting stones in Ramban.

Senior superintendent of police (traffic, national highway) Shabir Malik said, “The Jammu-Srinagar national highway (NH-44) remains blocked at Mehar and Cafeteria Morh. We will restore the affected stretches as soon as possible. The Amarnath pilgrims, who had come from Jammu to visit the holy cave shrine were taken to the Yatri Niwas at Chanderkote in Ramban.”

On Thursday morning, the 28th batch comprising 1,602 pilgrims left Jammu for the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas. They left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in a convoy of 55 vehicles, officials said. The 596 pilgrims heading for Baltal in 21 vehicles had a head start, they were followed by a second convoy of 34 vehicles ferrying 1,006 pilgrims for Pahalgam. The number of pilgrims visiting the cave shrine have drastically fallen over the past three days due to inclement weather conditions.

Till Wednesday, over 2.33 lakh pilgrims had offered their prayers at the cave shrine, housing a naturally formed ice-shivlingam. The yatra is scheduled to end on August 11. So far, 51 pilgrims have lost their lives en route to the cave shrine. Amid inclement weather, people were advised not to travel on the Jammu -Srinagar national highway without confirming the status from traffic control units in Jammu, Srinagar, Ramban and Jammu.

An advisory was also issued advising people to stay away from water bodies due to the increase in water levels of rivers and rivulets. The water level of most rivers – Chenab, Tawi, Ujh, and Basantar – was above the danger mark. “Rainfall on upper reaches may lead to floods, flashfloods, mudslides, landslides at vulnerable places. People need to remain and & prepared as these events often occur suddenly,” said a meteorological department advisory.

Houses damaged, students trapped in school

Dozens of houses and structures were damaged due to the heavy rainfall, some bridges washed away and scores of vehicles were stuck on roads and highways in different districts of Jammu region. Most roads and colonies in Jammu city were inundated due to heavy rainfall gauged over 80mm in a few hours. Flash floods and landslides were reported in Jammu, Kathua, Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur and Reasi districts. Dozens of vehicles were trapped on a highway in Kathua. In Kishtwar, a foot-bridge was washed away in the Afti area, the officials said.

Authorities rescued teachers and students trapped in a government school after heavy rainfall triggered flash floods in the Muthi-Udhaywala area. Later, all government and private schools in Jammu were closed.

A woman suffered serious injuries after her house collapsed in Arnia area of Jammu district. A three-storeyed house in Kanak Mandi area of Jammu city also collapsed. It triggered protests against the Jammu municipal corporation (JMC) for its alleged failure to raze old and unused buildings in the old city. The wall of a house also collapsed in Kalka colony.

The worst-affected areas in Jammu due to the rainfall and subsequent flash floods were Keran, lower Roopnagar, Kangrail, Raipur, Kot-Bhalwal, Burn and Gharota, Paloura, Talab Tillo, Channi Himmat and other low-lying areas where the rainwater entered houses. Power and water supply in parts of the city and other rural areas was affected, while water and mud entered houses and shops in Old Janipur, Bhawani Nagar, Naseeb Nagar, Shant Nagar, Paloura, Lower Roop Nagar, Muthi.

In Reasi district, a new track to the Vaishno Devi shrine atop the Trikuta hills was closed on Thursday as a precautionary measure following heavy rain in the area, said officials.

Meanwhile, during the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday, in a daring rescue operation, the Indian Army in coordination with State Disaster Response Fund and police rescued four persons in Jhulas area of Poonch district. “The Indian army swiftly responded to a critical situation, in which four youth were trapped in Poonch river flash flood due to incessant rains,” said a defence spokesperson said.

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