At least four people were killed and six were reported missing after an avalanche hit the Khardung La pass in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh on Friday.
A search operation conducted by various security agencies is underway, ANI reported. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council said that Union home minister Rajnath Singh had been briefed about the rescue operations.
Two tippers and a Scorpio car, which were carrying a total of 12 people, left for Khardung La on Friday morning to load snow which was to be brought to Leh. Reportedly, a tipper had been loaded with snow while the other one was being filled when the avalanche struck the vehicles at 7 am, a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) official said.
He said the BRO has pressed into service its men and machinery to rescue the persons believed to be trapped under the snow. Teams of the army and the State Disaster Response Force have also reached the spot for the rescue operation, he said. It was not clear whether the persons in the vehicle were civilians or security force personnel, immediately.
At 17,582 feet, Khardung La is the highest motorable road in the world.
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) January 18, 2019
The snowslide comes as cold wave conditions continued across North India on Monday with fresh bouts of snowfall reported in the Kashmir Valley, Ladakh region and Himachal Pradesh. Several places also witnessed a sharp drop in minimum temperatures at night.
Kashmir is under the spell of what is locally known as the Chillai-Kalan — the 40-day harshest period of winter when snowfall is frequent. Chillai-Kalan traditionally ends on 31 January and is then followed by a 20-day-long Chillai-Khurd (small cold) and then 10-day-long period of Chillai Bachha (baby cold).
Pahalgam witnessed the coldest night of the season at a record low of minus 14.6 degrees Celsius, which was also the coldest January night in the hill station in the past five years. While Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir with a low of minus 18.6 degrees Celsius, Leh too witnessed a low of minus 16.2 degrees Celsius.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jan 18, 2019 15:19:21 IST