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Five killed as avalanche hits Leh, five trapped

Rescuse personnel search for survivors as an avalanche hit Leh in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Five persons were killed and five others remained trapped under snow after an avalanche hit Khardung La Top located at the height of 18,380 feet in Ladkah’s Leh district on Friday.

Two civilian vehicles carrying 10 civilians were swept away and buried under an avalanche of approximately 20 feet depth and of 800 metres length, which hit the Khardung La Top-South Pullu stretch on the world's highest motorable road on Friday morning. The Army was alerted by two civilian drivers around 7:45 a.m. about the incident.

“Of 10 civilians, five bodies were recovered,” said a Border Roads Organisation (BRO) official. The Army said mangled pieces of one vehicle was found on the steep slopes below the road.  “The rescue operation is in progress,” said an Army spokesman.

The Army said the run out zone, where the snow and debris gets accumulated after the avalanche, is around 1100 metres down the steep hill side. “The (rescue) operation may take some time in such a situation,” said the Army.

All the trapped persons were Army porters. The recovered bodies were identified of Nurboo Tsering, Thinles Spalzang, Tsewang Tashi, Tsewang and Lobzang Chombel. A joint rescue operation of the state police, Army and State Disaster Response Force is underway in the area.

The Army has pressed helicopters to move highly trained avalanche rescue teams, Avalanche Panthers Teams, from Siachen Base Camp and North Pullu to the spot. The helicopters were also carrying deep search radars that could easily detect humans through the snow.

“These teams are equipped with specialised avalanche rescue equipment, medical equipment and avalanche rescue dogs utilised in the search and rescue operations,” said the Army.

Doctors and nursing assistants, heating blankets, medical equipment and warm clothing were also moved to the avalanche site, said officials. The incident comes at a time when J&K is staring at a major wet spell. Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division, including Leh and Kargil, on Thursday were asked to advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas between January 20 and 23.

Governor Satya Pal Malik announced an ex-gratia relief of ₹5 lakh for the next of the kin of those killed in the avalanche.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 4:36:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/avalanche-hits-leh/article26023593.ece

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