First snowfall of the season in Jammu & Kashmir has created a havoc in the region. Five Indian army soldiers have been trapped under snow at Naugam and Gurez sectors along with Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in North Kashmir area of J&K, on Tuesday.
The Defence spokesperson in Kashmir said that the rescue operation is still underway and will continue till army rescue team finds the trapped soldiers.
Three army soldiers who were deployed at a forward post at LoC in Gurez sector of Bandipora district of Kashmir were trapped under snow on Tuesday morning after an avalanche covered the whole area in snow. An alert was already issued by the weather department.
Meanwhile, two more soldiers slipped down a mountain slope along LoC in another Naugam sector at LoC in neighbouring district of Kupwara in North Kashmir.
Since Monday morning, there has been heavy snowfall in upper reaches of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh regions and heavy rains in plains of Jammu region.
In the wake of continuous snowfall, the threat of snow avalanches looms large in the upper reaches.
The Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs) of army have been deputed since last 36 hours for the rescue operation. The rescue operation is also being hampered by bad weather and poor visibility followed by temperature in the minus.
Official sources said that unfortunately with each passing hour, the chances of survival of the trapped soldiers will become very low.
Meanwhile, over 200 passenger vehicles and a number of trucks carrying essential commodities were stranded at 300-kilometer long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only alternate road connecting Kashmir with rest of India.
The worst affected areas at National Highway are Banihal, Ramban, Panthyal areas in mountainous Ramban district.
Senior Superintendent of Police Mohan Lal, of Ramban, said that the snow and landslides at Ramban and Banihal have been cleared with the efforts of the joint teams of Border Road Organisation (BRO), Traffic police and JKP. He added that all the trucks with stranded passengers will be cleared by Wednesday evening, but as the road is too slippery vehicular movement is risky on the hilly track.
Previous avalanche in J&K:
January 2017: 20 soldiers including four officers were killed in snow avalanches in Gurez, Machil and Uri sectors, close to the LoC.
What is snow avalanche:
An avalanche occurs during or after heavy snowfall. It is a rapid flow of snow down a mountainside. After a heavy snowfall all that is necessary for an avalanche is a slope for it to slide down. The vast majority of avalanches (90 per cent) occur on slopes with angles between 30 and 45 degrees and J&K's upper reaches are prone to such situations. Avalanches can reach speeds of 80 mph within about 5 seconds. An avalanches can release 2,30,000 cubic meters (300,000 cubic yards) of snow. That is the equivalent of 20 football fields filled 3 meters deep with snow. Avalanche risk is at its greatest 24 hours following a snowfall of 12 inches or more.