M A I N   N E W S

Avalanche turns grave for 17 Army men in J&K
17 others hurt as tragedy strikes training camp in Gulmarg
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, February 8
At least 17 Army personnel, including an officer, were killed and 17 others injured in an avalanche at Khilanmarg in the upper reaches of Gulmarg, about 50 km from here, today. Fortysix others were rescued in a joint operation launched by the Army, police and the State Tourism Department.

A defence spokesman said the avalanche struck the training area at Khelan Marg, where 400 Army personnel were undergoing training. Around 80 members of High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) were trapped under the avalanche. Prompt action by the Army, duly assisted by the state administration, including civilian doctors and the police, resulted in the rescue of Army personnel. A Brigadier from the formation was overseeing the rescue operations, the spokesman said.

The tragedy has happened when the entire Kashmir valley and its upper reaches have been witnessing heavy rain and snowfall for the past four days, disrupting traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

Various areas of the valley, particularly in north Kashmir, have been cut off from the rest of the state due to heavy accumulation of snow in the upper reaches and high mountain areas. Gulmarg and Khilanmarg areas are under three to five feet snow accumulated during the past four days.

The Disaster Management, Kashmir, had only yesterday issued avalanche warning for various areas across the Kashmir valley in view of continued bad weather conditions. It warned of high danger avalanches in areas around Sonmarg on the Srinagar-Ladakh axis, and the medium danger avalanche warning in Khilanmarg, Uri, Baaz, Razdan Top, Keran, Machchil, Sadhna Top, Gurez and Chowkibal areas of north Kashmir. Aamir Ali, OSD with the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, in charge of the disaster management, here yesterday, quoting the SASE, also warned of low danger avalanches on the two sides of the Jawahar Tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

According to officials of the Tourism Department, which conducts snow skiing events in the area, a team of skiing and rescue experts headed by Tourist Officer GM Dar, equipped with snow scooters and piston bullies, have joined the rescue operations.



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