Incessant heavy snowfall causes chaos in Kashmir Valley, India


16 hours of heavy snow fell in the Kashmir Valley on Thursday, November 7, 2019. The incessant snowfall has killed seven people, caused traffic disruption in both land and air, interrupted electricity across the valley, and triggered avalanches in several areas.

This season's first heavy snowfall began on Wednesday night, November 6, and continued through the following day, turning the narrow tracks on the hill slopes slippery.

Complete traffic disruption was reported on all major highways connecting Kashmir Valley to the rest of India, including the Srinagar-Jammy Highway, the Srinagar-Jammu Highway, the Srinagar-Poonch Highway, and the Srinagar-Kargil Highway. Around 2 000 vehicles were left stuck on the road.

Flights were unable to land nor take off from the Srinagar airport due to the accumulation of snow on the field and low visibility.

The State capital recorded more than 0.3 m (1 foot) of snowfall, while the upper reaches of Kupwara, Shopian, Ganderbal, and Baramulla saw 0.9 to 1.2 m (3 to 4 feet) of snowfall.

Two army porters were swept by snow avalanches during the night, said an official. The bodies were recovered on Thursday and were identified as Mohammed Isaac and Manzoor Khan, both residents of Kupwara's Zihama village.

Furthermore, two other soldiers were killed in a vehicular accident in Kupwara's Langate area due to poor visibility.

In the same district, around 90 homes have been damaged due to snowfall, according to Deputy Commissioner Anshul Garg.

One of the victims named Manzoor Ahmed, an employee of the Power Development Department, died after falling from an electric pole.

In Srinagar city, a civilian was killed after being hit by a tree branch.

In Pulwama city, another victim died when he was clearing snow from a roof and slipped.

The extreme weather has also inflicted damage to electricity lines, resulting in total electricity outage across the valley.

"Snow has damaged the electric power infrastructure in the valley. Power lines have been downed by tree branches. We would require 3-4 hours after snow stops to restore the power supply. We are hopeful to start the restoration in a phased manner from Friday forenoon," said Chief Engineer Qazi Hafhmat of the Power Development Department.

All major government-run hospitals in Srinagar would have to postpone scheduled operations on Friday if the power will not be restored, officials said.

On the other hand, Kashmir University and the Islamic Unversity of Science and Technology have already moved examination schedules for Friday.

Mukhtar Ahmad, the director in-charge at the Meteorological Department, said the weather is likely to be better by Friday afternoon, November 8.

Featured image credit: The Earth News/YouTube

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