February 2005 News

Snowfall Toll 400; 500 Missing 25 Sick Persons Airlifted To Doda, Udhampur Hospitals

24 February 2005
The Times of India

Jammu: As the relief and rescue operation through the state is in full swings, the rescue teams today recovered more bodies from snow-clad areas of the state. UNI reported that at least 400 people are feared dead in the state while over five hundred others still missing. Nearly five thousand houses have been damaged fifteen hundred cattle heads have perished. Army today recovered four bodies of the security personnel who were buried at Jawahar Tunnel due to an avalanche some days back. According to a defence spokesman, a joint rescue team of 49 RR and HAWS launched operation and recovered the bodies of Lal Bahadur, Christopher, A K Misra and Sukumar Sharma. He added that the army rescue teams reached out to more snow affected areas to render help to the people. The spokesman said that Baramulla-Nowgam road, Baramulla-Limbar road and Baramulla-Chulan road. He added that the army aviation helicopters also dropped 850 kilograms of ration in the Halsidar village while as the people of Sidnar village have already been evacuated. Twenty-five sick people were air-lifted from different remote villages of Doda and were hospitalised in Jammu and Udhampur for specialised treatment. Six hundred stranded passengers were evacuated from Leh to Nobra areas in an air-force plane, officials said. A fresh avalanche hit Kandi area of Rajouri claiming life of a woman and injuries to five persons. The woman killed in Kandi has been identified as Shimla Devi. An official spokesman said that in a fresh avalanche at Kandi, two people, including a woman, were killed and five others wounded. Zakir Hussain, a numberdar of Loran in Poonch district where over 18 people have died during the past four days in avalanches, told agencies over phone that Naganari village, which had a population of nearly 4,000, was totally cut off from the adjoining areas for the past one week. 'We have not been able to establish any contact with the trapped people at Naganari for the past one week. I do not know how many of them will be alive.' Senior police officials said it would take rescue teams a day or two to reach Naganari and other such areas in Loran as more than 10 ft snow was accumulated there. He said at Ari from where 14 bodies have been extricated from beneath the avalanches so far, five to six people were still missing. In Rajouri district alone, 1,423 houses, seven shops and other structures had been damaged, while nearly 400 cattle heads had perished. The official spokesman said Assistant Commissioner (Revenue), Rajouri, had asked all revenue officers to assess damages caused to life and property in their respective areas. More than 1,000 houses were reported to have been damaged in Poonch, Doda, Ramban, Banihal and Udhampur areas. One person was rescued by Army at Manjosh in Doda today. Army also provided 185 kg ration to trapped people at Ludna, 15 km north-east of Doda. Troops airdropped 2,400 kg ration, 82 blankets and other items of daily use as hundreds of people were trapped in Gurmul for the past one week. Rescue teams were yet to start operations in some far-flung areas of Bhaderwah and Kishtwar, the spokesman added. Reports from Doda said that one GEF employee was buried under snow and died in Bhalla area of Bhaderwah. Sandeep Kumar, 13, son of Sadhu Ram of Kanthi tehsil Thathri died as their house collapsed on Tuesday night. 9 year old daughter of Sadhu Ram sustained wounds. Abdul Jabbar, son of Lhiya of Dhandel died while eleven houses were damaged due to snow avalanches, police said, adding that 150 families migrated from Dhandal and took shelter at Gurmul. Several houses were also damaged in Gurmul. Deputy Commissioner Doda, Gulzar Ahmed Qureshi himself supervised the relief distribution (air-dropping in Gurmul, Dessa, Dhandal and Bharat areas of Doda where the people are facing brunt to the nature's fury. Brigadier JS Jaidev, Lt Col UK Sharma and DySP (Dar) Doda Mohd Aslam Sheikh also participated in the relief operation. Atleast twenty-five sick and injured were air-lifted from Marwah, Dessa, Gurmul and other areas of Doda to hospitals in Jammu and Udhampur. Ramban police claimed all the missing persons in Varnal area has been rescued safely. However, Satish Singh, son of Thakur Singh of Hallan Paristan got trapped in an avalanche and search operation is in progress to rescue him. Bodies of two women Fatima Bigam and Zahida Bano have been recovered and six persons have been rescued safely from Kumait area. The fate of thousands of villagers living in remote areas of Doda and Poonch is not yet ascertained. The operation to filter out these villagers are yet to be carried and reports of thousands of them marooned in the snowfall powered in. These areas are cut off from rest of the country from last fifteen days and these areas witnesses heaviest of snowfall in last 30 years. The relief and rescue operations are yet to reach there. The communication network in these areas have also been totally disrupted. The death toll in Doda district moulded to 32 with the recovery of few more bodies. In only Ramban and Banihal areas, 500 houses were damaged and over 300 hundred cattle heads perished. The worst affected areas are Khari, Mahi Manjit, Ramsoo, Ukharhall. The other worst affected villages of Doda are Marwah, Warwan, Padder, Dachhan, Dessa, Shangan, Gundoh, Thanala, Sherki and Hanga. The most parts of Doda remained without power and water from last one week. There is shortage of kerosene and LPG in the area also due to blockage of road. The snow remained accumulated on this side of the tunnel and the snow clearance process is going on at snail pace. The GREF authorities failed to clear the landslides on 21 kilometres stretch between Pantihall to Banihal in last 3 days. Official reports said that due to incessant snow fall in Ladakh region around 600 people of Nobra got stranded at Leh and similarly equal number of people stranded at Nubra. On the requisition of district administration, the science and technology minister Rigzin Jora and the chief executive councillor, LAHDC Leh Rigzin Spalber took up the matter with the Defence ministry, who in turn directed the Indian Air Force authority to air lift stranded passengers from the two places. Accordingly, 278 people of Nobra were air lifted yesterday, while as 305 people air lifted today in Indian Air Force plane to Nobra. The Deputy Commissioner Satish Nehru said that due to un-favourable weather the scheduled helicopter sorty for lingshed could not operate today. He said the special copter sorty for Lingshed is expected tomorrow. People have been advised to clear the helipad and to make smoke near the helipad at Lingshed.


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