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Fresh avalanches in J-K, toll over 21

Several avalanches and landslides hit the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway today even as the death toll in the series of snow slides that have hit Jammu and Kashmir crossed 20 with the recovery of the bodies of four soldiers.

The fresh avalanche in Banihal disrupted the work of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) that is busy clearing blockades due to snowfall in a bid to restore traffic on the highway which is closed for the third consecutive day today.

In Srinagar, police officials said that bodies of four missing soldiers were recovered from avalanche-hit Gurez sector, taking the death toll in the incident to 15 “Four bodies of soldiers were recovered from the avalanche site by rescue teams in Gurez today. The death toll of army personnel has now risen to 15,” a police official said.

Two avalanches hit army personnel in Gurez sector on Wednesday evening trapping several soldiers under the debris.

While seven personnel were rescued alive by the teams, bodies of 10 soldiers were recovered yesterday.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man died after he came under an avalanche in Uri sector of Baramulla district.

Fateh Mohammad Mughal ventured out of his home last evening when he came under an avalanche. Local residents and police pulled Mughal out of the avalanche debris and removed him to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival. More than 20 persons, including 15 army personnel, have died in avalanches since Wednesday caused by fresh snowfall across Jammu and Kashmir over the past four days.

Authorities have issued a high danger avalanche warning in hilly parts of snow-bound Kashmir Valley in view of fresh snowfall. Several avalanches have also hit the highway at Shatani Nallah area in Banihal belt of Ramban district today, police officials said.

A number of landslides were also triggered by heavy rains in Banihal-Ramban sector, they said adding the clearance of the snow to make the highway trafficable is being disrupted due to avalanches and landslides in Banihal-Ramban stretch. Efforts are on by BRO with their men and machines to clear the highway of landslides, avalanches and heavy snowfall to make it trafficable, they said.

The highway was closed on Wednesday due to heavy snowfall.