M A I N   N E W S

Thousands still stranded on highway
Fresh avalanche warning in J&K
Tribune News Service & Agencies

Jammu, February 8
A passenger died due to cold in a stranded bus while an avalanche hurled an empty bus into a 200-feet deep gorge on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which remained closed for the second day today due to heavy snowfall and avalanches in the region. The highway is the only road link between Kashmir valley and rest of the country.

Over 3,000 people have been stranded in 500 vehicles which have been shifted from the avalanche-prone areas of the highway last night.

Traffic department officials said an elderly man, identified as Gulam Mohmmad of Pulwama, died due to cold on the highway, which is closed due to continuous heavy snowfall. The body was recovered from one of the stranded buses near Jawahar tunnel, they said.

The Met Department has warned that more avalanches would follow in next few days and keeping in view the warnings, traffic authorities have shifted all stranded vehicles from avalanche-prone areas along the highway.

Several stranded passengers have taken shelter in private houses enroute as the local authorities of these areas have failed to provide shelter to them.

Reports said that fresh snowfall was hampering the road clearing operations. The highway was reopened on Sunday after three days, but it was again closed due to snow and landslides between Patnitop and Banihal.

SRINAGAR: In a rescue operation launched by 49 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), three personnel out of the 10 declared missing have been rescued from the avalanche yesterday at Jawahar Tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

At least six Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel were killed, 12 injured and 10 others were missing after an avalanche hit their three Igloo huts at Jawahar Tunnel. A defence ministry spokesman said the rescued men have been identified as Constable Ram Narain Tiwary and Constable Ravi Shanker Tiwari both of 7 ITBP and Constable Ghulam Rasool of Jammu and Kashmir police.

The rescued personnel have been evacuated by helicopter in critical condition to 92 base hospital at Srinagar.

SHIMLA: Piercing cold wave sweeping Himachal Pradesh continued unabated as higher reaches, including the state capital, had another spell of moderate snowfall while mid and lower hills were lashed by rains and sleet even as avalanche threat persisted in upper tribal areas.

The minimum temperature was close to freezing point in Shimla which received 21.1 cm of snow and sleet, while it dipped four to five degrees below the freezing point in higher hills, resulting in freezing and bursting of water pipes.

Tourist resorts of Manali, Dalhousie, Shimla, Narkanda and Kufri had intermittent snow and sleet in the past 24 hours while the adjoining mid hills experienced widespread rains.

The tribal valleys of Lahaul, Spiti, Pangi, Pin and Hangrang had no relief from biting cold wave conditions as the minimum temperature stayed between -18 and -28 degrees celsius paralysing normal life.

The Indo-Tibet National Highway remained blocked at Narkanda due to heavy snowfall. The Shimla-Kotkhai road was opened to traffic but Jubbal, Narkanda and Chopal areas remained cut off.

The Kullu-Manali national highway which was opened in the afternoon was again blocked due to landslides at Patlikul and some other places.

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