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Heavy rain, snowfall wreak havoc across J&K; NH, many roads blocked, power supply hit

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2 trapped under avalanche rescued; child, mother wash away
40 flights cancelled at Srinagar Airport, Army rescues pregnant woman

Gopal Sharma/Fayaz Bukhari

JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Jan 8: The air and surface link across J&K have been badly hit with the heavy rain and snowfall for the last three days while a woman and her daughter were rescued at a remote village in Poonch whereas, a child and mother were washed away in a Nallah in Billawar area of Kathua district.
The continuous snowfall for the second consecutive day today disrupted normal life in Kashmir with all flights cancelled at Srinagar Airport and major roads connecting Kashmir remained closed.
Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir received fresh snowfall today after the Meteorological Department (MeT) issued ‘red alert’. Click here to watch video
The snowfall and low visibility at Srinagar Airport led to the cancellation of all 40 flights that were scheduled to operate today.
Director Srinagar Airport, Kuldeep Singh, told the Excelsior’ that the poor visibility and continuous snowfall have hampered the flight operations at Srinagar airport today.
He said that despite continuous snowfall throughout the day, the snow was being cleared from runway and apron for flight operations.
The famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district experienced its first snowfall of the season, while the strategic Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed due to landslides at several places, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.
They said that about four inches of snowfall was recorded at Vaishno Devi shrine early Saturday, while the high altitude areas including Bhairon Ghati were covered by heavy snowfall.
The Yatra was going on smoothly but the helicopter service and the battery car service remained suspended due to weather, the officials said, adding it was raining heavily in Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the shrine, when last reports were received.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Shabir Ahmad Malik said the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed since Friday due to heavy snowfall in Banihal area and multiple landslides in Ramban sector. He said the traffic on the highway was restored early Friday after remaining suspended for the past two days due to the inclement weather. However, it was again suspended in the afternoon due to continuous snowfall and rains that triggered landslides at nearly half a dozen places including Cafeteria Morh, Karol, Maroog, Mom Passi, Khooni Nallah and Digdole. Shooting stones continued at Panthyal point, posing major risk to the road users, he added.
“About 50-60 light motor vehicles (LMVs) were left stranded due to the closure of the highway. A number of trucks also remained stranded while some 300 trucks carrying essential supplies to Kashmir including fuel and fresh vegetables were cleared. The shooting stones continued at several places and entire stretch has turned fragile, it is not advisable to allow traffic even on Sunday. Even at Ban Toll Plaza land slide last evening, several passenger vehicles had narrow escape. Tomorrow, if weather improves, road clearance work will be initiated in Ramban sector. It needs at least 7-8 hours of continuous work to the NH authorities,” Malik said.
The officials said the stranded passengers including a group of 26 tourists from Gujarat were shifted to community hall in Ramban and were provided all necessary assistance including food and blankets during the night.
The train service between the 136-km Banihal-Baramulla Section was also suspended due to the inclement weather conditions, the officials said.
Due to the heavy snowfall in the valley, the officials said the train service between Banihal and Baramulla sector was suspended as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident.
Snowfall ranging between a few inches to over five feet was recorded in most parts of region, while Jammu city and other plains were lashed by heavy rains during the past 24 hours, disrupting normal life. Several rivers and Nallahs were also over flooded due to heavy rain in the region. The hilly areas of Jammu including Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Doda, Reasi, Poonch and Rajouri experienced heavy snowfall, disrupting normal life, the official sources said.
They said the traffic on the Jammu-Poonch highway was also suspended due to heavy snowfall at Bhimber Gali (BG) and several other areas in twin border belts of Poonch and Rajouri. Mandi- Loran and Mandi-Saujian and Bafliaz-Dera Gali-Thannamandi roads were also closed due to heavy snowfall.
Official sources said that Poonch road was closed due to heavy snowfall between Jaranwaligali and Bimber Gali (BG) in Mendhar area of Poonch district. Traffic remain suspended on Saturday after the district received ample of snowfall on Friday night and Saturday. The roads connecting Poonch to Mandi-Loran and Mendhar witnessed no traffic due to snowfall. There were some reports where the water have entered the houses of people due to overflow of the drains and canal.
In Mohalla Shankar Nagar, the flooded water from the old canal entered into the houses of the residents which caused loss of goods. As soon as the water entered to the houses, ACD Basharat Hussain and officials of Irrigation and Flood Control rushed to the spot and used the vehicles of fire brigade to take out the water.
A Head Constable Abdul Rashid was injured when an official vehicle of a police officer rolled down into a gorge at Patnitop in Udhampur district Friday evening, the officials said, adding the injured was hospitalised.
The Patnitop hill resort, a star attraction for tourists visiting Jammu region during winters, recorded nearly one and half feet of snow, the officials said.
According to the Meteorological department, Katra recorded the highest 95.2 mm of rainfall followed by Jammu at 83.5 mm during the past 24 hours, ending 8.30 am Saturday.
Reports from Poonch said that a 37-year-old woman and her minor daughter were rescued by villagers from an avalanche in a remote village of Behramgalla in Surankote Sub Division this evening.
Nasreen and her 12-year-old daughter, Zaida Kousar had gone to fetch water from a natural source in Tarwanja village of Behramgalla in Surankote area when they came under the avalanche, the officials said.
They said the villagers acted swiftly and evacuated the two after pulling out the woman and her daughter from the snow.
Both of them escaped unhurt in the incident, the officials said.
A video, purportedly showing the girl being pulled out by villagers from under the snow, had gone viral on the social media, drawing appreciation from the viewers.
Report from Kathua said that a 6-months old child and her mother, were washed away in flooded Nihar Nallah near Machhedi in Billawar area of district Kathua last evening. While the mother was later rescued by the villagers, the child washed away and could not be traced till today. The police and locals of the area were searching for the child downstream.
Entire area of Machhedi, Badnota, Lohai, Malhar, Duggan, Taggar and Loang in Kathua was under the cover of heavy snow. The road connectivity to these areas has been snapped and power supply failed since yesterday. The public was facing lot of hardships. Even road link to Bani from Basohli and Billawar to Katli has also been snapped due to land slides.
Reports from Udhampur said that road link to Pancheri, Landhar, Moungri, Chenani- Mantalai-Latti-Dudu-Basantgarh and Ramnagar-Kulwanta-Majouri to Basantgarh has been snapped. There was total `black out’ in these areas since yesterday. Even power supply to entire Reasi district including the main town, Mahore, Dharmai, Arnas, Sungri Chassana was snapped since yesterday. There was major power crisis in many areas of Banihal, Ramban, Batote, Bhaderwah, Doda, Gandoh and Kishtwar, Paddar, Chhatroo besides Rajouri, Mendhar and Poonch.
Many houses and cattle sheds were partially or fully damaged in Reasi, Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch area since yesterday. Three houses belonging to Suraj Ram of Nandkote, Bashir Ahmed of Shajrro and Ghulam Mohd at Lar in Reasi district were fully damaged today. However, no loss of life has been reported. Three houses belonging to Sansar Singh at Ladoka in Nowshera and Mohd Rafiq at Thudi in Rajouri were fully damaged. The family had narrow escape in these incidents.
A large number of Jammu City localities including Gandhinagar Extension, Nanak Nagar, Janipur, Indira Colony, Subash Nagar, Muthi, Chatha, scores of Old City areas were without electricity for the last more than 12 to 24 hours. The PDD authorities failed to restore power supply in many areas even late this evening. Dozens of transformers and scores of electric poles said to have been damaged due to rain, lightning and snowfall.
Chief Engineer, PDD Jammu A K Sachdeva said that department tried to restore about 90 % power supply by this evening. But there are still problems in some snowbound areas. In Reasi also main power supply line has been damaged and work was going on to restore the supply. He claimed that by tomorrow, 100 % power supply will be restored to all the areas.
Due to heavy rain in Jammu, Samba and Kathua areas since last night, several rivers including Chenab, Tawi, Basantar and Ujh were over flooded. Many seasonal Nallahs were also swollen due to constant rain. This caused disruption in smooth movement of traffic.
Meanwhile, Gulmarg received 3 feet snowfall, 2, Tangmarg 2.5 feet, Baramulla 4 inches, upper reaches of Baramulla 1.5 feet to 2 feet, Kupwara inches, Sadna Top 4 feet, Machil 4 feet, Z-Galie 4.5 feet, Keran 4 feet, Dawar 4 feet, Tulail 5 feet, Ismarg 5 feet, Razdan Top 5.5 feet, Bandipore 4 inches, Anantnag 3 inches, Pahalgam one feet, Kokernag six inches, Kulgam 1.5 feet, DH Pora 3 feet, Aharbal 4 feet, Shopian 3 feet, Herpora 4 feet, Keller 3 feet, Pulwama 4 inches, Sangerwani 3 feet, Pakherpora one foot, Awantipora 2 inches, Tral 2 inches, Budgam 4 inches, Khag one feet, Srinagar 4 inches, Ganderbal 3 inches, Sonamarg four feet, Gund 8 inches and Kangan 3 inches.
The MeT has predicted improvement in the weather conditions from tomorrow morning.
The other roads including Srinagar-Leh, Mughal road also remained closed for the traffic.
The administration early today pressed men and machinery into service to clear the roads of snow. Majority of the roads were cleared of snow but some lanes and by-lanes in Srinagar and hills roads are yet to be cleared.
The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole told Excelsior that around 85 percent roads were cleared of snow, power supply to 90 percent areas and water supply to 95 percent areas has been restored till this evening.
The snowfall led to massive damage to the electricity transformers as well as feeders in the Valley.
An official said that 1031 11KV feeders had suffered technical snag across Kashmir out of which 909 feeders have been repaired till his evening while 122 feeders are still under fault.
Chief Engineer, Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL), Aijaz Ahmad Dar said that 150 transformers at different places across the Valley were also damaged due to the fresh snowfall.
However, he said that 55 transformers have been replaced till evening while the work on other damaged transformers is going on.
Several areas in Srinagar city are still in dark for last 24 hours and so are few areas in Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama.
People in the hilly area of various district have also alleged that snow was not cleared from the roads.
In Budnamal area of Kupwara district a family was forced to carry a woman patient Hussaina Begum on shoulders and then on a horse to the hospital in knee-deep snow.
Several villagers shouldered the woman in a cot due to closure of roads due to 3 feet snowfall in the area.
Abdul Jabar Malik of Budnamal along with other persons carried his wife to hospital through the snow on horse yesterday. She was carried on shoulders in a cot up to 4 kilometres till Babyi Top on horseback.
Meanwhile, Indian Army near a village of Ghaggar along LoC in Boniyar tehsil of Uri Sub Division received a distress call from the locals requesting for urgent medical assistance for a pregnant lady who was in critical condition.
The Army Medical team was rushed to the location and after initial assessment of the patient , in view of critical situation emergency evacuation was planned. However, due to heavy snowfall it was difficult to move vehicles from Paro to the village. A Medical team then planned to evacuate patient on stretcher and shift her to the PHC ambulance at Salasan.
Thereafter, without wasting much time the team along with porters evacuated the woman to hospital despite inclement weather and heavy snowfall and covered about 6.5 kms on foot.

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