Five dead, three rescued in Kashmir avalanche

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SRINAGAR, India, Feb 8, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Three policemen were rescued
Friday while five other bodies were recovered from an avalanche that buried
10 people in Indian-administered Kashmir following two days of heavy
snowfall, police said.

The avalanche hit a fire emergency facility late Thursday in the Banihal
area of the Kashmir valley. Six police, two prisoners and two other personnel
had taken refuge there during a storm.

Rescuers dug for hours through heavy snow to reach the trapped personnel.

The dead include two firefighters and three police, another official said,
adding the search for two more police was ongoing.

The three rescued policemen have been taken to hospital, senior official
Baseer Khan told AFP.

Two other men died in Kashmir’s Ramban area after a landslide and falling
stones hit them as they walked along a highway already blocked since Tuesday
due to heavy rain and landslips, a police official said.

Another man died on Thursday when his home was buried under an avalanche
in the southern Kukarnag area.

The avalanche in Banihal came after two days of heavy snowfall that cut
electricity supplies to many areas and blocked roads.

More than 50 flights in and out of the main city of Srinagar were
cancelled.

Authorities have also started rationing petrol and diesel as supplies in
the Kashmir valley are running low. Bad weather has disrupted essential
supplies for two weeks.

Kashmir suffers regular winter disasters.

On January 18 a massive avalanche hit a high altitude mountain pass in the
remote Ladakh area, near the border with China, killing 10 people. Rescuers
took a week to retrieve the bodies.

Last year 11 civilians died in an avalanche at Kupwara near the Line of
Control that divides Kashmir between Indian and Pakistan-controlled sectors.
In 2017, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a series of avalanches.

In 2012, a wall of snow engulfed a camp below the Siachen glacier on the
Pakistani side of the territory, killing 140 people, mostly Pakistani
soldiers.

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