Heavy snowfall in North Kashmir; NH, Batote-Kishtwar road closed

March 14: The incessant rains and snowfall continued on third consecutive day today leading to further drop in the temperature across the State while fresh avalanche warning has been issued by the Administration in the hills of Kashmir.
While Jammu Srinagar-National Highway which was opened with restrictions today was again closed this evening, the Batote-Kishtwar road has been blocked again after heavy landslides whereas, six families of Budhal area in Rajouri were shifted to safer location fearing landslides by the local administration this evening.
The continuous rain across the State and snowfall on the higher reaches, for the last three days, has crippled normal life.  Many link roads in the hilly area have been closed.  The water level in the rivers and nullas has also increased while temperature dropped down considerably.
The plains of the Kashmir valley received fresh snowfall while the upper reaches received snowfall with North Kashmir’s hills along the Line of Control (LoC) witnessed heavy snowfall.
The Sadnatop on Kupwara-Tanghdar road received around 4.5 feet of fresh snowfall while Furqiyan Top connecting Keran with Kupwara received 3 feet of snow and Gurez around 5 feet of snow, Gulmarg around one feet, Khilan Marg and Affarwat in Gulmarg over one feet, Peer Ki Gali in Shopian, South Kashmir, over 2 feet, Padpaun, Hirpora and Sedav near the Shopian town of South Kashmir received several inches of snow, Pahalgam, Chandanwari, Sonamarg also received fresh snowfall.
The snowfall has led to the closure of Kupwara-Tanghdar Road and Border Roads Organization has pressed in its men and machinery to clear the road of snow but continuous freak weather and avalanches and landslides are hampering the operations.
The snow clearance work on Mughal road in South Kashmir was also affected due to fresh snowfall and landslides. The authorities last week started snow clearance from the road that connects Shopian in Kashmir with Poonch in Jammu division and remains closed during winter due to snowfall.
After the fresh snowfall, the SASE today issued fresh avalanche warning for higher areas of Kashmir advising people not to venture into these places over the next 24 hours.
A Meteorological official said that Srinagar recorded 6.4 mm of rain, Jammu 8.4 mm,  Pahalgam in South Kashmir recorded 8.6 mm, Qazigund 6.4 mm, Kokernag recorded 20.7 mm of rains and Kupwara district 20.7 mm of rain during last 24 hours.
The MeT office has forecast improvement in weather tomorrow afternoon, which came as a relief to the people of the Valley who have been forced by wet conditions to look for woolens which they had put away due to the improved weather.
The continued snowfall and rains led to drop in the temperatures across the State. Srinagar recorded a maximum of 10.0 degree Celsius, five notches below normal. Jammu recorded a maximum of 17.5 degree Celsius and minimum 12.1 degree Celsius. Leh town recorded maximum temperature of 13.2 degree C and minimum 0.7 degree Celsius.
An official spokesman in Jammu said that Helicopter service to   Mata Vaishnodevi shrine  from Katra base camp remained suspended today.  It carried some sorties only during morning hours but due to bad weather it was suspended for rest of the day. A horse was killed when a big bolder fell on it near Ban Ganga at Katra on Mata Vaishnodevi track this morning.  The owner of the horse Balwant Kumar, son of Kikar Ram, resident of Matah village in Pouni  in district Reasi had a miraculous escape.
Deputy Commissioner Udhampur, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, has directed that all the schools of the Udhampur district shall remain closed tomorrow except for schools in Udhampur municipal limits, due to prevailing bad weather and expected heavy rains on  March 14.
The  District administration has issued weather advisory for general public of Udhampur district that the weather is likely to deteriorate on March 14 in  whole of the district.
Administration has also advised the people not to venture in landslide prone areas and also not to go near rivers /nullahs during this period to avoid any untoward incident, due to coming up of heavy rains and thunderstorms in various parts of the district. People are also advised not to panic, take all necessary precautions and avoid unnecessary travelling during this period.
Inspector General of Police, Traffic, Viplov Kumar told the Excelsior that heavy rains triggered shooting stones and slides between Batote and Banihal especially at Gangroo, Panthal, Seri Maggarkote  and Sher Bibi. He said that the National Highway authorities cleared the slides  and traffic was on throughout the day with restrictions to the traffic plying from Jammu to Srinagar to cross Nagrota by 1 p.m. and from Srinagar to Jammu to cross Qazigund by 3 pm.
Mr Kumar said that highway was  opened to traffic in the morning. The traffic was suspended several times during the day due to shooting stones and landslides at several locations between Batote and Banihal  but the road was cleared and then traffic restored.  He further said that  highway was closed  for traffic this evening for precautionary measures as the shooting stones continued at several places in this problematic zone. Tomorrow also, the traffic would be restored on the highway with restrictions.
Another senior Traffic Police official said that due to landslides at Kaura Pani and  another fresh slide near Malhori,  Batote- Kishtwar road was again blocked today. He said the road is expected to be restored by tomorrow  as  a big boulder of  thousands tons lying on the road is needed to be blasted and removed from the road. The continuous rain delayed the restoration work, he added.
Due to closure of roads, a large number of passengers have been stranded on Jammu Bus Stand and also at Udhampur Bus Stand. The road from Ramnagar to Dudu-Basantgarh,  Ghordi and Barmeen has been closed.  Pancheri-Panjar road has also been closed.  Reasi-Mahore and Gool besides Chasana to Budhal road is also lying closed due to landslides at several places.
Reports from  Rajouri said that due to fear of  landslides at least 50 members of six families were shifted at Kewal village of Budhal to the safer zone by the local administration today. They were also provided immediate assistance by the Administr-ation.
With the continuous rain, the power supply to many areas has been affected and dozens of electric transformers have been damaged.

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