Dozens Die In Kashmir Avalanches
20 February 2005
Srinagar: Almost 40 people have died in avalanches in Indian-administered Kashmir, amid the heaviest snowfalls in two decades in the region. More than 60 others have been reported missing since Saturday. Flights have been cancelled, major roads blocked and communications cut, officials say. The Indian army, which has thousands of troops based in the Himalayan region, is providing food and shelter for some of the victims. A remote village in Poonch district, about 250km (160 miles) north of the winter capital Jammu, was among the worst-hit, with at least 18 people killed. Fifteen people died in Anantnag district, about 75km (45 miles) south of the summer capital Srinagar. Two people were killed in a house collapse in Dras district. The main highway linking Kashmir and India remains shut Elsewhere in Kashmir, four members of India's Border Roads Organisation died in avalanches. Police say about dozens of houses in the region have been damaged by the heavy snow, and the army has saved as many as 30 people trapped inside. Several thousand motorists remain stranded in villages along the main 300km-long (185 miles) Jammu-Srinagar highway that links the valley of Kashmir with the rest of India. There has been no electricity in Srinagar for the last three days and water supplies have now been affected as well, officials say. The army says 4.5 metres (15 feet) of snow has fallen in some places of Kashmir.