Heavy rains hit normal life across J&K; two killed, traffic suspended

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/14/2020 2:30:39 PM Front Page

Snow paralyses Valley, flights cancelled; chopper services at SMVD too

JAMMU/SRINAGAR: At least two persons including a National Conference leader were killed in separate accidents in the aftermath of landslides triggered by torrential rains, which lashed most parts of Jammu region on Monday and threw normal life out of gear, also playing spoilsport in the Lohri and Makar Sankranti celebrations.
The traffic on the 270-kilometre Jammu-Srinagar national highway was also suspended, even as all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were also cancelled as the Kashmir Valley received heavy snowfall in for the second consecutive day today.
The inclement weather also forced suspension of helicopter services to and fro the famous shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Reasi district of Jammu.
Normal life was hit in Jammu due to incessant rains since Monday morning, marring the Lohri and Makar Sankranti celebrations.
People usually lit bonfires and distribute sweets to observe the Lohri festival which marks the end of biting winter chill and the beginning of the harvest season.
Reports of light to moderate snowfall was received from high altitude areas of Jammu region over the past 24 hours, the officials said.
Heavy rains triggered shooting of stones from hillocks at various places between Panthiyal and Ramsu in Ramban.
A 37-year-old National Conference leader Moulvi Mohammad Khalil Sohil was killed after he was hit by a boulder from a hillock in Ramban district.
Sohil, National Conference (NC) block president for Khari and Ramsoo in Banihal assembly segment, was a resident of Sarbagni village.
“He was on his way home when he came under the rolling boulder at Khuni Nallah on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway,” a police official said, adding he died on the spot and his body was handed over to his family after completion of legal formalities.
Sohil's death is a big loss for the NC, party district president, Ramban, Sajjad Shaheen said.
In another accident near Dharmari in Reasi, one person was killed and two others injured when a vehicle they were travelling in, skidded off the road.
“Heavy rains and slipper conditions are prima facie the reason behind the accident,” an official said, while identifying the deceased as Showkat Hussain.
Another truck was hit by shooting stones in Banihal, resulting into injuries to its driver and the cleaner.
Following heavy snowfall and rains, Kathua police issued an advisory asking the people not to go besides the rivers having heavy flow of floods and hilly areas having danger of landslide.
The traffic on the highway, which was allowed from Srinagar to Jammu this morning, was halted due to shooting of stones from the hillocks overlooking the arterial road at several places in Ramban district, a traffic department official said.
Heavy rains triggered the shooting of stones in Moumpassi, Digdole and Panthiyal areas this afternoon, forcing suspension of the traffic, the official said, adding snowfall is also continuing on the Kashmir side of the highway since Sunday including Jawahar Tunnel -- the gateway to the valley.
"We are monitoring the situation and a decision to allow the traffic will depend on the stopping of shooting stones from the hillocks and the road clearance operation by the concerned agencies," he said.
An official of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said the helicopter service to and fro the shrine atop Trikuta hills was suspended due to "bad weather".
However, the pilgrimage is going on smoothly despite heavy rains, he said.
The minimum temperature across Jammu region continued its upward trend for the second day and settled several degrees above the season's average, an official of the Meteorological department said.
He said Jammu city recorded a low of 11.3 degrees Celsius which is 4.3 notches above normal during this part of the season. The city had recorded a low of 9.3 degrees Celsius the previous night.
Katra town, the base camp for Vaishno Devi shrine, recorded a minimum of 9.4 degrees Celsius, while the Bhaderwah in Doda district was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a night temperature of 1.4 degrees Celsius.
The weatherman has predicted heavy to very heavy snowfall (in upper reaches) and rains in plains of Jammu during the next 12 to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, snowfall in Kashmir threw life out of gear for the second day on Monday and forced cancellation of all flights to and fro Srinagar airport.
Most parts of the valley received moderate to heavy snowfall, bringing relief to residents from intense cold conditions. While the plains received light to moderate snowfall and sleet, the higher reaches of the valley experienced heavy snowfall.
All the inbound and outbound flights to Srinagar were cancelled due to poor visibility and accumulation of snow on the runway, an official of the Airport authority of India said.
The plains and upper reaches of the Valley have received heavy snowfall. Srinagar has recorded 12 centimetre of snow, Gulmarg 27 cm, and Pahalgam 21.5 cm.
The snowfall has brought down the temperatures across the Kashmir Valley. Srinagar recorded a night temperature of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius. The ski resort of Gulmarg was at minus 5 degrees, while Pahalgam saw a minimum of minus 2.7 degrees Celsius.
The early morning snowfall and sleet later in the day led to waterlogging of most of the roads in the city including the commercial hub of Lal Chowk, the officials said.
Electricity supply in many areas has been snapped due to the snowfall, they added.
The MET Office has forecast more precipitation over the next five days but with lesser intensity from Tuesday.
"It will snow today, we will only see an improvement in weather from tomorrow onwards," said an official at Met office in Srinagar.
Scores of villages across the valley have been cut off after the link roads got blocked by the snow. Remote areas like Gurez and Tangdhar have been disconnected.
This year Kashmir has witnessed several rounds of snowfall. The unseasonal snow in November brought devastation and caused extensive damage to vast swathes of apple orchards in upper reaches of South Kashmir.
Meanwhile, two teenaged girls trapped in an avalanche debris in Baramulla district were rescued on Monday by locals, said officials.
Shagufta (18) and Meema (15) were trapped under a heap of snow following an avalanche which struck Dudran in Uri area of Baramulla, the officials said.
They said the local residents dug up the debris and rescued the two girls.

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