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Army rescues stranded civilians after heavy snow hits Gurez valley, Jammu and Kashmir

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The Indian army airlifted more than 160 stranded civilians from Gurez in Jammu and Kashmir, India on March 15, 2020, as heavy snowfall created difficult conditions in the area. Four of the rescued individuals were in critical condition but were assisted promptly, the Indian army said. Gurez is completely cut off from Kashmir since early November 2019.

The Dawar Battalion of Snow Leopard Brigade army received a requisition on March 14 from the civil administration for the rescue of civilians trapped in the cut-off Gurez and Bandipora. According to local reports, the operation lasted for several hours amid the heavy snow.

The helipad operated by the Dawar Battalion was made operational, despite the extreme snow. Later on, the Indian Army and Air Force joined forces in evacuating the civilians.

Additional medical staff was also deployed in Gurez, with the help of the Indian Army, to fortify preparations against COVID-19. Moreover, an isolation ward was set up inside the Dawar Garrison to quarantine suspected cases.

Four of the rescued individuals were in critical condition, but medical support was immediately provided to the ill patients who were suffering from the cold.

The evacuation on March 15 came after the rescue on March 8, wherein the army also saved more than 390 people stranded at Sela Pass in Tawang district due to heavy snow.

According to Tezpur-based defense spokesman Lt. Col. Harsh Wardhan Pande, the rescue operation was carried out at an altitude of 4 267 m (14 000 feet) from March 7 to 8.

Pande added that those rescued were provided with food and prompt medical support as well.

Gurez is completely cut off from Kashmir since early November 2019. The clearing of snow at Razdan Pass and on the road linking Bandipora and Kanzalwan has also finished, and will possibly be finished by the end of April.

In January 2020, several people in Gurez lost their lives after a brutal cold wave, which also hit neighboring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Featured image credit: @TheStorm_in/Twitter

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