At least ten soldiers were killed while seven soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), were rescued after two avalanches hit army posts in the Gurez sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, a statement released by the Indian Army on Thursday said.
An avalanche hit a patrol party on its way to an army post of the 51 Rashtriya Rifles in the Gurez sector of Jammu and Kashmir following which a rescue operation was launched. Several soldiers are still said to be missing.
Another avalanche hit the Gurez sector, located close to the Line of Control, in the Bandipora district of the state, claiming the lives of four members of a family on Wednesday. According to a police official, the avalanche hit Badoogam village, situated in Gurez's Tulail area.
"An avalanche struck an army camp in Gurez Sector of J&K on 25 January 2017. Rescue operations were immediately launched in extreme bad weather and heavy snow fall. The search operation enabled rescue of one JCO and six soldiers," the statement read.
An army patrol headed to a post also went missing after an avalanche hit the same area on Wednesday, the statement said: "The area continues to receive heavy snow fall. Braving inhospitable weather conditions, coordinated rescue operations are in progress in which three bodies could be recovered so far. Search operations continue."
The number of soldiers who are still missing is not known yet. Heavy snowfall is hampering the rescue operations in the sector. According to the Jammu and Kashmir Police, around 150 people were evacuated from Khadiyall and Ismarg villages of Gurez on Wednesday to safer areas since both villages are prone to avalanches.
Heavy snowfall has also caused the death of seven civilians. Four members of a family died on Wednesday after their house collapsed in an avalanche while the fifth member was rescued from the debris. Three other people, including a labourer, died in a roof collapse and under severe cold conditions on Wednesday, the police was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed condolences over the death of the jawans. He tweeted.
Deeply saddened at the death of our Veer jawans in an avalanche in Kashmir. Have directed the authorities for speedy search and rescue ops.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 26, 2017
An avalanche also hit an Indian Army camp in the hill station of Sonamarg, located in the Ganderbal district of the state, on Wednesday morning killing an army officer.