At least 10 people have reportedly gone missing after an avalanche hit the Jammu-Srinagar highway on Thursday, February 7, evening. Among the missing are six policemen, two fire service personnel and two prisoners.
Police sources told IANS that the avalanche hit a police post near the Jawahar Tunnel and around 20 people were present at the spot at the time of the incident. While search and rescue operations were immediately launched, the process has been hindered as the area has been receiving incessant snow and rainfall in the past 24 hours.
"Police rescue teams and other concerned agencies have been rushed to the site," a police official explained.
The region is known to get hit by huge avalanches and 16 of the 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir have also received a warning. As a precautionary measure, about 80 families have already been moved to safer locations.
In addition, the 300 km-long highway has remained closed since Wednesday, February 6, as heavy snowfall caused may landslides and blockades. Traffic was not allowed on the stretch and the snow is reportedly yet to be cleared.
Flight services to Srinagar remain suspended due to bad weather and the snowfall has also brought down several infrastructure, including electricity poles. "We are on the job to restore the damaged infrastructure but the quantum of damage is very large and it will take some time to restore electricity back to normal," NDTV quoted an official of the divisional administration as saying.
The officials believe that it will take some time to bring things back to normal in the state and hence have asked fuel pumps to ration petrol and diesel. Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has issued an order asking all fuel pumps not to supply more than three litres of petrol per vehicle each day and 10 litres of diesel to commercial vehicles until told otherwise.
Meanwhile, the Met department has said that the weather is likely to show some improvement by Friday, February 8, evening.
The northern states of India have been witnessing rough weather for the last few days. Parts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh also received fresh snowfall on Thursday. Kedarnath, Badrinath and several other high altitude areas were seen blanketed by thick snow and towns at a lower altitude received heavy rainfall.
Delhi and surrounding NCR region were also lashed by heavy rainfall and hail.