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Landslides strand over 8 000 vehicles, up to 1 m (3 feet) of fresh snow in Jammu and Kashmir

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More than 8 000 vehicles were stranded in Kashmir as the Srinagar-Jammu Highway remained closed again on Sunday, December 22, 2019, following landslides that blocked the road. Meanwhile, Kashmir valley and higher reaches of the Jammu region including Chenab valley areas received fresh snowfall beginning Friday, December 20, with the higher reaches of Kathua district seeing up to 1 m (3 feet) of snow.

Rain and snow from December 11 to 14 prompted the closure of the highway until December 15. On December 17, it was closed again for a major part of the day after landslides hit the road at Ramban.

Another massive landslide hit the road on Saturday afternoon, December 21, leading to another closure.

"It is a big landslide and will take two to three days to clear the road. The highway will open either on Monday evening (December 23) or Tuesday morning (December 24)," Superintendent of Police Traffic Muzaffar Shah said.

"More than 8 000 trucks and small goods vehicles are stranded on our side. There are no passenger vehicles," the officer added. 

On the other hand, the upper reaches of the valley including the capital Srinagar received snowfall on Friday, December 20.  The traffic police officer said that thousands of vehicles were stranded on the highway from the Kashmir side.

Those moving from Jammu to Srinagar had said that the condition of the road was bad and slippery. "After every wet spell, the water seeps into the mountains causing landslides," said Shah.

In particular, the areas that saw up to 1 m (3 feet) of snow were Bani, Lohai Malhar, Machhedi and Sarthal areas connecting to Bhaderwah and Doda district, with the road link between Bani-Sarthal and Bani-Basohli affected badly.

There was 8 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) of snow near Jawahar tunnel on Saturday evening, December 21, and roughly 1 000 vehicles were stranded between the tunnel and the Ramban sector.

Drivers suffered from slow traffic due to slippery roads, leading to a traffic jam on a 20 km (12 miles) stretch on the highway.

Twelve flights to and from the Srinagar airport were canceled due to bad weather conditions, officials of the Airport Authority of India said.

The 40-day intense winter period– Chillai Kalan– began in Kashmir valley on Saturday, December 21, even as the winter has prolonged this season after five spells of snowfall and rains already since November 6. 

From November 6 to 8, Kashmir saw the season’s first heavy snowfall which had disrupted air and traffic across the valley. Further rains followed on November 14 and 21, bringing freezing temperatures and closing main highways.

Featured image credit: @JammuKashmir5/Twitter

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