Kashmir avalanche death toll climbs to 24

At least 24 people killed, including 20 soldiers, in a series of avalanches in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    Meteorologists have forecast more heavy snow across over the next couple of days [EPA]
    Meteorologists have forecast more heavy snow across over the next couple of days [EPA]

    Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of four more Indian soldiers buried under tonnes of snow in Indian-administered Kashmir, bringing the number of troops killed in a series of avalanches to 20, the military has said.

    Four civilians were also killed in the Bandipora district on Wednesday.

    Avalanches struck an army post and a patrol along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed territory with Pakistan.

    All eleven members of the patrol, that was approaching the border post along the LoC, were killed.

    "Four more bodies were recovered today [Friday]. No one else is missing," army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told AFP news agency.

    Another separate torrent of snow in the same remote Gurez area buried three other troops at an army post.

    The bodies of 10 soldiers were pulled from the snow on Thursday.

    Four members of a single family also died on Wednesday in the same area when the house they were sleeping in was hit by an avalanche. A lone survivor was rescued.

    Police last week evacuated 80 people from Waltengoo Nar village in south Kashmir [EPA]

    Dozens of Indian and Pakistani soldiers are killed almost every winter by avalanches along the LoC.

    In 2012, a massive avalanche in the Pakistan-controlled side of Kashmir killed 140 people, including 129 soldiers.

    Kashmir is divided between the nuclear-armed neighbours and is a long-running source of tension between them.

    Indian-administered Kashmir has been witnessing one of the most severe winters in recent decades, with heavy snow across the territory and temperatures dropping to minus 7C.

    The timesofindia.com website reported that a high-danger avalanche warning had been issued in the area after intermittent snowfall in the last three days.

    Meteorologists have forecast more heavy snow across the territory over the next two more days.

    Last week police evacuated 80 villagers from Waltengoo Nar - where dozens were killed after a series of avalanches hit the area in 2005 - in the south of Kashmir.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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