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300 stranded on landslide-hit Jammu-Srinagar highway rescued

Army has been deployed to assist the civil administration in rescuing the travelers stranded since last evening. Troops and the Ramban district administration provided food and medical aid to the stranded people.

SP Sharma | Jammu |

Following distress calls, the Army, on Wednesday, evacuated to safe locations more than 300 travelers, including 100 women and children, who were among hundreds of people stranded on the 270 km strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway due to landslides and shooting stones triggered at several places due to incessant rain. Army has been deployed to assist the civil administration in rescuing the travelers stranded since last evening.

Army troops and the Ramban district administration provided food and medical aid to the stranded people.

Cold wave condition was being experienced across Jammu and Kashmir because of unseasonal snowfall at higher reaches. With 15 degrees Celsius, Srinagar broke last 7 years’ lowest maximum temperature of 15.2 degrees C recorded on 4 June 2015.

A major landslide near the Dawal Bridge at Samroli was reported in the afternoon.

Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Mussarat Islam tweeted in the evening that 20 of the 30 landslides in the Ramban-Udhampur section of the highway have so far been cleared by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

Electric supply in many areas has been hit due to damage to the power supply infrastructure.

Army’s help has also been sought by the district administration of Rajouri where some migratory shepherds at high pastures were “struggling for their survival” due to bad weather and incessant rains. Contact with nomadic tribes has also been established in Shopian and Kulgam, tweeted DC Rajouri Vikas Kundal. DC Kulgam Dr. Bilal Mohammad Bhat tweeted that he has received distress calls from migratory families stuck in high-altitude Kausarnag. Teams with relief material, food, fodder, blankets and waterproof tents have been rushed to the spot at a trek of 30 km.

The Tribal Affairs Department said a loss of livestock has been reported in the upper reaches of Reasi, Kulgam, Ramban, Shopian and Rajouri districts.

Schools in many out of the 20 districts across Jammu and Kashmir have been shut because of rains, landslides and snow.

Many parts of north Kashmir, including Bandipora, had snowfall and authorities have deployed machinery equipment to clear snow from the roads. The route to Amarnath Shrine also had snowfall on the Baltal side. The Bemina locality of Srinagar was witnessing a flash flood.

The Northern Command said that two columns have been launched by the Indian Army to ascertain the situation and provide necessary assistance. Massive landslides have occurred due to heavy rain on National Highway 44 at Ramban. Several civilians and vehicles are stranded, Army said.

The Weather Department has warned that the next 24 hours are going to be crucial, especially for people living in low-lying and hilly areas as chances of flashflood, landslides and mudslides are high.

Several interior roads in the Jammu division and the Kashmir Valley were also shut for traffic. Hundreds of people are stranded on these roads also. The other road link with Kashmir Valley through the Moughal Road in Poonch and Rajouri is also shut.

A high alert has been sounded for several areas in the mountainous Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban districts and also in Jammu, Udhampur, Reasi and Pulwama where the water level in rivers was fast increasing.

Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Ramesh Kumar, has asked people not to venture near the water bodies and rivers.

In Ramban, a house collapsed but luckily there was no loss of life in the incident. However, five people got trapped in flash floods in River Ans in the Reasi district but they were rescued by the police. J&K Police in the affected districts has established helplines.

Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Mussarat Islam said landslides clearance works was in progress near Battery Cheshma on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. Some trucks were caught in mud-slush. Continuous shooting stones over the steel tunnel at Panthyal were affecting road clearance operations amidst rains.
The Divisional Commissioner said that no traffic movement was being allowed on the highway either from Jammu or Srinagar due to landslides and shooting stones because of heavy rainfall.

The Baltal Base Camp of the Amarnath pilgrimage had fresh snowfall.

The level of the Chenab and Tawi river in the Jammu district was rising and as such the deputy commissioner Avny Lavasa has alerted the general public not to go near the river banks till further notice.