Rescue operations affected due to bad weather conditions

Five junior commissioned officers were among 16 Army personnel killed in two massive avalanches that struck military posts on Wednesday along the Line of Control in central and north Kashmir. Three soldiers are still missing, the Defence Ministry said.

Srinagar-based Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. J.S. Brar said the area was not prone to avalanches. Rescue operations were affected due to heavy snow and bad weather conditions.

The first avalanche hit the Army post at Sonmarg in Ganderbal district in central Kashmir at about 4.45 p.m. While the majority of troops were rescued, one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and two jawans lost their lives, the spokesman said.

The deceased were identified as naib subedar Mahadev Gain, sepoy Puvaneswaran (both of Army Service Corps) and rifleman Amit Sharma of the Territorial Army. Nine personnel were rescued, while one JCO, 3 jawans and 2 civil porters were injured.

Second avalanche

The second avalanche that occurred around 10 p.m. in the Dawar area of Gurez Valley in Bandipore district of north Kashmir, resulted in the death of 13 personnel. While 13 were rescued, three are still reported missing.

Those killed were subedar Desh Raj; R.S. Poonia, S.N. Yadav, and U.B. Hirve (all naib subedars); havaldar Om Prakash Baitha; Vinay Kumar Bharati, Dinesh Kumar, Sagar Biswas and Probir Sarkar (sepoys), Ankit Kumar, S. Muni Samy, Nawle Manoj and Shyju J.P. (craftsmen). All the deceased were from the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, while expressing grief over the deaths, said his thoughts were with the relatives of those who were killed in the line of duty. Wishing speedy recovery to those injured, he said the government would provide relief and rehabilitation to the affected families.

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