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10 missing after avalanche hits Jammu-Srinagar highway

According to police sources, the avalanche hit a police post near the Jawahar Tunnel on Thursday evening.

SNS | New Delhi |

Ten people were reported missing after an avalanche hit the Jammu-Srinagar highway. The strategic 300 km-long road remained closed for the third consecutive day on Friday due to heavy snowfall and landslides, police said.

According to police sources, the avalanche hit a police post near the Jawahar Tunnel on Thursday evening. The missing people comprise six policemen, two fire service personnel and two prisoners.

A search and rescue operation began shortly after the avalanche but bad weather condition has hampered the efforts, the sources added.

Meanwhile, no traffic was allowed on the highway on Friday due to multiple avalanches in the Bannihal sector and landslides in the Ramsoo-Ramban area.

Avalanches that occurred between Qazigund and Jawahar Tunnel those are yet to be cleared, traffic department officials said.

Incessant rain in Ramsoo-Ramban triggered landslides at Panthal, Anokhi Falls and Battery Chashma.

Fearing that the restoration of the highway could take at least three more days, the divisional administration has ordered rationing of petrol and diesel in the valley.

An order issued by Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir has directed petrol pumps not to supply more than three litres of petrol per vehicle per day and just 10 litres of diesel to commercial vehicles until further orders.

Air traffic was suspended on Friday between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the country due to heavy snowfall and poor visibility.

Meanwhile, the MET office has forecast an improvement in the weather conditions as the western disturbance causing heavy rain and snow in the state is expected to move away Friday evening.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded as all flights to Srinagar were cancelled for the second consecutive day on Thursday due to heavy snowfall.

The runway of the Srinagar Airport was buried under a thick sheet of snow as a result of which all 27 flights of various airlines were cancelled.

The helicopter service at the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu was also suspended due to rain and poor visibility as a result of which several pilgrims were stranded.

The Kashmir valley, Ladakh, and the upper areas of Jammu have been receiving continuous snowfall since Wednesday. The plains of Jammu were witnessing widespread heavy rain as a result of which several roads have been closed due to landslides.

Electricity and water supplies have been hit due to bad weather.

(With inputs from IANS)