Nine civilians trapped in avalanche-hit areas rescued

Three armymen missing

PTI | February 24, 2012

Nine civilians trapped in avalanche-hit Sonamarg area of Kashmir for three days were on Friday rescued by local authorities assisted by Army even as hopes of finding alive three armymen missing in the snowslide in Gurez sector faded away

"Nine civilians have been rescued from snow-bound Sonamarg area this morning with the assistance of the Army," Coordinator Natural Disaster Management Cell Aamir Ali said.

Ali said three government employees had started from Sonamarg, 85 kms from here, to Ganderbal by foot on Wednesday but two of them went missing following heavy snowfall and avalanches at some places along the route.

"Only one of them managed to reach Ganderbal and informed the administration about the two missing persons.However, the missing persons managed to contact the authorities through a phone call and informed that they had taken shelter under Shitkari bridge," he said.

Ali said as the rescue team reached the spot, they found nine persons at the spot including the two employees.

"They have been airlifted in Cheetah helicopters to Sonamarg from where they will be flown to Ganderbal district headquarters in a Mi-17 chopper," he added.

Snow avalanches hit Sonamarg area on Wednesday evening and in one incident, three army personnel were killed while six others were injured.

Meanwhile, hope of finding any survivors among the three missing army personnel in Gurez sector of Bandipora district faded away.

The three army personnel were guarding the sentry post at the workshop of 109 Infantry Brigade when a snow avalanche struck on Wednesday night. The sentry post is buried under 18 feet of snow and inclement weather has been hampering the search operations.

So far, 13 bodies of army personnel have been recovered in Gurez while 13 others were rescued.

Sixteen army personnel, including five officers, were killed in the two avalanches in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts of Kashmir Valley.



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