Kashmir valley buried in snow

Road and airport closures isolate Srinagar as avalanche risk remains high

    Five Indian soldiers were rescued on Saturday after they had been buried under snow in the disputed Kashmir region.

    Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan' - considered the harshest period of winter - which began on December 21 last year.

    In the past three days, one Army Major and 14 soldiers have lost their lives in avalanches, making it the highest number of such casualties that the army has suffered in the past year.

    Five civilians were also killed this week by avalanches, prompting authorities to issue a high-danger avalanche alert in the snow-covered region.

    The snowfall and fluctuating temperature, along with consequent rain, have already triggered many avalanches and rock slides, blocking roads at several places.

    Roads between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the country, including the all-weather Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, remained shut on Saturday after nearly a week of closure, as excessive snowfall disrupted normal life.

    Heavy snowfall in Kashmir over the past week has cut off the state from the rest of the country. Locals said they had not witnessed such heavy snow in the past 20 years.

    Earlier this week, all flights to and from the Srinagar International Airport were suspended due to poor visibility.

    Saturday’s snow caused more cancellations at the airport.

    Earlier in January, Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir recorded a low of -12.4C, a three-year low in the month of January and more than 8 degrees below average.

    Gulmarg, the well-known ski resort in northern Kashmir, also recorded this significant cold with a low of -13C. The average night temperature here in January is -8C.

    The Indian Met office has forecast that another spell of moderate snowfall will occur on January 30 and 31, possibly adding another metre of fresh snow.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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