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11 Dead After Avalanche in Kashmir, Govt Announces Rs 4 Lakh Compensation for Kin of Victims

Among those killed was an officer of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) whose vehicle was swept away in the avalanche at Sadna Top, an ascent point on the Kupwara-Tangdhar highway. Another BRO officer in the vehicle was among the three rescued.

Mufti Islah | CNN-News18

Updated:January 6, 2018, 8:41 PM IST
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11 Dead After Avalanche in Kashmir, Govt Announces Rs 4 Lakh Compensation for Kin of Victims
Rescue operations underway to extricate people from under the snow in the Tangdhar area. (News18)
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Srinagar: At least 11 people have been confirmed dead while three, including a seven-year-old, were rescued on Saturday, day after an avalanche hit Tangdhar sector in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

Among those killed was an officer of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) whose vehicle was swept away in the avalanche at Sadna Top, an ascent point on the Kupwara-Tangdhar highway. Another BRO officer in the vehicle was among the three rescued.

Two vehicles were buried in snow when the avalanche struck on Friday evening, following which rescue operations were launched comprising teams of civilians, army and police personnel.

Among the first bodies to be recovered was that of Beacon officer MP Singh who was declared brought dead at a military medical facility in Chowkibal.

In a separate operation, a 7-year-old boy was rescued in Khoni Nallah near Sadhna Top. The driver of the vehicle had jumped out when the avalanche occurred.

The residents of Tandhar have been demanding a tunnel to bypass the treacherous uphill trek, especially with the onset of winters. The area is avalanche prone and every year casualties are reported on the stretch. A tunnel will make Tangdhar accessible throughout the year, without people having to go through the risks of taking the other route.

Jammu and Kashmir minister for disaster management and relief, Javeed Mustafa, has sanctioned Rs 4 lakh each to the deceased and other relief material.

This is not the first of weather related tragedy in the area. Several people perish every year to the avalanches and mudslides in the area. The problem for the roughly 70000 people who live in the area is that is gets buried under up to 10 feet of snow from the first snowfall of the season. The stretch from Chowkibal to Sadna Top and down are prone to snow slides.

''This is a perennial problem. We are cut off for months together wherever it snows here. We are literally in prison for six months. We can't take sick out of Tangdhar on winters,'' said Mohammad Maqbool, a resident.

Maqbool, a former zonal education officer, said that residents of the area have been demanding a tunnel between Chowkibal and Zarla in Karnah.

"This would bypass the treacherous Sadna Top and make travel less risky," he said.

Arif Khwaja, who serves as a doctor in the area says the pre-feasibility study with government suggests the tunnel should be only 6.25 km long which is not a big deal considering the level of advancement in tunnel digging technology.

"Tangdhar being at a strategically important location badly needs a tunnel. This will make the area accessible all the time," he said.
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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