30 civilians stuck in avalanches near Tangdhar pass rescued


SRINAGAR, Jan 18: Amidst fresh snowfall and two avalanches, the Indian Army and General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) rescued 30 civilians stuck on Chowkibal-Tangdhar road (NH-701) on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.
As per the Army's Public Relations Officer (PRO), Srinagar, two rescue teams comprising of avalanche rescue teams from the Indian Army and a team of GREF reached the NC pass as soon as they received the information of civilians being stuck closer to Khooni Nala and SM Hill on NH 701. "Despite adverse weather conditions compounded by twin avalanches, 14 civilians were rescued and brought to Neelam and 16 civilians to NC pass, which is also commonly known as Sadhna pass," the Army said in its release.
All the rescued civilians were provided food, medical care and shelter for the night, the Army informed.
Further, in their release, the Army said that twelve vehicles were later retrieved during the day today post avalanche and snow slides clearance from the road.
"GREF played a difficult but stellar role in snow clearance amidst dangerous conditions. The entire effort took about five to six hours," they informed.
"It may be highlighted that last year also civilians were rescued by the troops near Khooni Nala, closer to NC pass, as the area is prone to avalanches and snow slides. The Indian Army stands by its tradition of helping out the citizens during their hour of need," the release stated.
However, minimum temperature in most parts of Kashmir stayed close to freezing point under the influence of a mild Western Disturbance that has resulted in snowfall in upper reaches of the valley, officials said on Tuesday.
The minimum in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, settled at a low of 1.1 degrees Celsius, almost same as the previous night's 1 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in Baramulla district of north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 6 degrees Celsius, down 1.4 degrees from the previous night.
Pahalgam in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius three degrees up from the previous night, they said.
The officials said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, recorded a minimum of 0.2 degrees Celsius, while the nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius.
The MET Office has said under the influence of a feeble Western Disturbance, the weather is most likely to remain generally cloudy with possibility of very light to light rain/snow in plains of J-K up to Wednesday and light to moderate snowfall over the higher reaches.
There is no forecast of any major rain or snow till the end of this month, it said.
Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as 'Chilla-i-Kalan' which began on December 21 last year.
'Chilla-i-Kalan' is a period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy to very heavy snowfall.
The 'Chilla-i-Kalan' will end on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).

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