4 killed in heavy snowfall across Kashmir, Flights cancelled


Srinagar, Nov 7: Heavy snowfall across Kashmir on Thursday cut off the valley from the rest of the country as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic while all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled, officials said here.
An official of the traffic department said that roads which connect the summer capital with far-flung areas like Gurez, Macchil, Keran and Tangdhar have also been closed due to adverse weather conditions.
Over 2000 vehicles are stranded on the highway due to the closure.
Four persons, including two locals working as Army porters, died in separate incidents following heavy snowfall in Kashmir Valley on Thursday, officials said. The two porters identified as Manzoor Ahmed and Ishaq Khan died after coming under an avalanche near a forward post in Kupwara district.
In another incident, an employee of the Power Development Depart-ment (PDD) died while trying to restore power supply, which has been disrupted by heavy snowfall in Kashmir, officials said.
Manzoor Ahmad, an inspector in the PDD, fell off a pole and died on the spot, the officials said.
They said the Srinagar district administration has sanctioned an immediate ex-gratia relief of Rs two lakh in favour of the next of the kin of the deceased PDD employee.
A pedestrian also died after he was hit by a branch of a Chinar tree which broke off under the weight of snow in Habak area of the city, the officials said. They said a cab and an autorickshaw were also damaged in the incident. An official of the Airport Authority of India said all incoming and outgoing flights at Srinagar Airport have been cancelled.
"A call on afternoon flights will be taken only after reassessing the weather situation," the official said.
The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the valley woke up to an unseasonal snowfall, setting in early winter chill in Kashmir as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time this season, an official of the MET department said.
The snowfall has disrupted life in Kashmir as power was snapped in the early hours.
A police official said there were reports of many trees and electric poles getting uprooted due to the heavy snowfall.
While most of the vehicles remained off roads, few cars and cabs could be seen on roads but drivers were facing difficulty in manouvering vehicles in view of accumulation of snow. Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said the district administration has taken up restoration works on a war footing.
"We have 45 machines on snow clearance job while dewatering pumps have been put into service using generators to ensure there is no waterlogging. As many 37 power stations have been restored so far while the remaining stations will also be restored in the next few hours," he said.
Srinagar city received around 11 cm of snow till 11.30 am while the valley's gateway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir received 12 cm of snowfall.
Gulmarg, where snowfall began on Wednesday, recorded the highest snowfall of 62 cm so far, the official said.
Higher reaches of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Kupwara received first snowfall on Wednesday while the plains were lashed by rains.
Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night's 5.4 degrees Celsius, a drop of six degrees.
Gulmarg was the coldest place in the newly formed union territory, recording a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius while other weather stations also recorded a minimum temperature hovering around the freezing point, the MET department official said.
Officials in Jammu said that upper reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch and Kathua districts also received snowfall. In the plains of Jammu, heavy rains continued triggering cold wave conditions.

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