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Monday, February 8, 2010

Kashmir (Srinagar) avalanche - 16 dead

16 dead, four missing in Srinagar avalanche.

Kashmir avalanche
February 08 2010 : At least 16 soldiers have lost their lives and around four others are missing after they were trapped in an avalanche in Khilanmarg, 70 kilometers from Srinagar.

There are reports that around 70 army personnel have been rescued till now.

The avalanche took place at 11 a.m. on Monday. The Army’s High Altitude Warfare School at Gulmarg had established an advance camp at Gujjar Hut on Sunday, and 300 Army trainees, 100 trainers, 60 support staff and 50 civilians were present when the avalanche came down.

Army and police resue teams have reached the location and all efforts are being made to rescue all those trapped.

Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) had issued an avalanche warning last evening and asked the people living in high altitude areas not to venture in the area, which has been receiving heavy snowfall for the past three days.

High danger prone areas included Sonamarg, Gagangir, Bhimbat, Drass, Batalic, Dhudi and S M Hills in Kargil district.The areas where low danger avalanche warning has been issued include both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel and the adjoining areas on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

Dozens trapped in Kashmir avalanche.

The avalanche hit the Indian army's High Altitude Warfare School in northwest Kashmir, a rugged area at an altitude of 2,730 meters (9,000 feet) near a military line that divides the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.

Army spokesman Col. Vineet Sood said 40 soldiers had been rescued but dozens more could still be trapped.

"It is snowing heavily and there is fog. Weather is hampering rescue operations," senior police official A.Q. Manhas said.

Avalanches occur frequently in mountainous Kashmir.

Heavy snow blocked Kashmir's main highway, the only road link to the rest of the country, for the third day Monday.

"We are struggling to reach the area - the snow and high winds are making rescue operations very tough," one of the rescuers, Ghulam Mohammed Dar, told.

Officials say there is little chance any tourists have been affected by the avalanche because it happened at a higher altitude than the nearby Gulmarg ski resort.

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