Jammu and Kashmir: 11 soldiers killed as avalanche hits Gurez sector, says army

When a snow avalanche hit an army post in Neeru village in tulail area in north Kashmir’s Gurez sector on Wednesday, resident from the nearby village of Mazgund rushed to the spot to help rescue the trapped soldiers in this remote village along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

“It looked like a part of the mountain had broken and tumbled on the camp,” Mohammad Sayed Lone, a Naib Tehsildar in Gurez, 200 kilometers from Srinagar, told Firstpost on phone.

On Wednesday night, army said, an avalanche hit its camp in Gurez, which remains cut off by road during winters, in which dozens of soldiers were trapped. The army immediately dispatched columns to rescue the men.

“The dead bodies of three soldiers were recovered from this site. We managed to take out four people alive in the night, including a JCO,” Col Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a defence spokesperson told Firstpost.

 Jammu and Kashmir: 11 soldiers killed as avalanche hits Gurez sector, says army

Representational image. Reuters

Neeru is at least 25 kilometers from Gurez town, and is one of the avalanche prone areas along the Line of Control in this sector. The snow avalanche hit the unit, few hundred meters from the Indian army’s 51 RR headquarters.

Between 2007 and 2012 more than 60 soldiers have been killed in different natural calamities in Kashmir valley, including ten in an avalanche that hit Siachen glacier, the world’s highest and coldest battlefield.

Few hundred meters from the 51 RR headquarters another patrol was coming towards the camp when another avalanche hit the petrol party burying all of alive them under tons of snow.

By evening, Lone, said the villagers and soldiers struggled under the inhospitable terrain and thick snowfall to get the trapped soldiers out of the avalanche.

“Seven soldiers were recovered from this site. In total 11 soldiers have died, including an officer on Wednesday” Kalia, the spokesperson, said.

On Wednesday another officer of the Indian army was killed when a snow avalanche buried his army post in Central Kashmir Ganderbal district.

Since Wednesday eleven soldiers have been killed in avalanches, apart from the militancy, weather has been a major adversary for the armed forces in Kashmir.

The region is witnessing one of the heaviest snow fall in years and it's likely to continue for some time, Director MeT department, Sonam Lotus said.

“The upper areas of the valley are most venerable including the LoC” Lotos added, while referring a Line of Control that divided the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan.

On Wednesday, an avalanche hit a house in which four members of a family were killed when the houses crumpled under the weight of the snow in Ganderbal area of Kashmir.

The Kashmir police said in a statement on Thursday that in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, 28 structures, including 12 residential houses, three shops and Imambada were damaged due to heavy snow fall.

In two days of fresh snowfall in total sixteen people have died, including eleven soldiers, with Meteorological department warning that vulnerability of avalanches at higher reaches will increase.

Police said, 150 persons were evacuated on Wednesday from avalanche-prone Khadiyall and Ismarg villages of Gurez to safer areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed grief over soldiers who were killed in avalanches and said that authorities have been directed to carry out search and rescue operations.

"Deeply saddened at the death of our Veer jawans (brave soldiers) in an avalanche in Kashmir. Have directed the authorities for speedy search and rescue operations," Modi said on Twitter.

Updated Date: Jan 26, 2017 19:15:29 IST