Army and Border Security Force [BSF] have rescued 23 civilians from two inaccessible avalanche sites across the high altitude Sadhna Pass, close to Line of Control (LoC), in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.

Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara Itrat Hussain Rafiquee confirmed reports of a successful rescue operation and said that all those evacuated had reached Tanghdar safely. He told The Hindu that on a communication from the snowbound Sadhna area on January 7, he requested Army and a BSF formation guarding a helipad to rescue the two groups of the civilians who had got trapped.

“They were travelling towards Tanghdar in three Tat Sumo vehicles. Their vehicles got stuck due to incessant avalanches and they got trapped. On receiving the SOS, we alerted the troops who got them successfully evacuated. Yesterday, I received information that the BSF unit got them all evacuated and the Army got them medically examined and dropped at Tanghdar. They are all safe”, DC Kupwara said.

A defence spokesman said that a group of 20 people, comprising 16 men, two women and two children got trapped around an inaccessible snowbound avalanche site on Chowkibal-Tangdhar Road on January 7. The Police and the civil administration at the district headquarters of Kupwara somehow got an SOS from the population in Chowkibal area. On a request from Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent, a unit of Rashtriya Rifles 20 Battalion was assigned with the rescue operation. Troops successfully evacuated all 20 members of the group.

The spokesman said that a group of three people was similarly rescued from a nearby avalanche site.

Even as Department of Meteorology repeatedly cautions the population through media and advises them against making movement in the avalanche prone areas like Sadhna, people ignore the alerts and travel in the snowbound heights. Though no major tragedy has been reported till date this year, many civilians and soldiers had got buried last winter in a number of incidents in the valley.