12 army men killed in Gurez avalanches

Bandipora, Jan 26:
At least 12 army men were killed and five others were missing after snow avalanches hit their post and patrol party in Gurez sector close to Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
Officials told Rising Kashmir that two troopers were buried when an avalanche hit a BSF post in Neeru area of Gurez yesterday.
“After the news about the incident reached main Neeru camp, a rescue team of 15 army men from 55 Rashtriya Rifles was rushed to the area to rescue the two trapped troopers in snow,” they said.
They said as the rescue team reached near the spot, an avalanche hit them burying all the 15 army men in snow.
Twelve bodies were recovered till this evening while five army men are still missing, they said.
They said their chances of survival are thin as the weather is hampering the operation launched to rescue the trapped army men.
A Junior Commissioned officer and six other army men trapped in snow were rescued, they said
The avalanche, according to officials, struck sometime between 6 am and 9 am.
Most of the trapped army men are from Engineering Wing of 55 Rashtriya Rifles, who were part of the rescue team.
An Army officer told Rising Kashmir said bad weather condition and heavy snowfall is hampering the rescue operation.
He said there are no signs of life as they heard no voices while digging the snow near the avalanche hit spot.
The area has witnessed over 9 ft of snowfall and most of the posts in Neeru are under snow.
SSP Bandipora Zulfikar Chaudhary confirmed the death of 10 army men.
He said four are missing.
According to officials, 13 avalanches have struck various areas of Gurez and Tulail areas during last 60 hours.
“Most of the avalanches were reported from Tulail. The Budugam and Neeru village, where avalanches hit residential house and army posts yesterday, fall in Tulail. At least 10 avalanches were reported from Tulail while three from Dawar and Bagtore,” they said.
Authorities have issued avalanche warning across the Gurez and Tulail and advised people not to venture out of homes as the incessant snowfall has increased risk of avalanches across the border belt.
Earlier, yesterday, an army officer was killed and seven others rescued after an army camp in Sonamarg was hit by an avalanche.
Four members of a family were also killed when snow avalanche hit their house in Gurez.
ARMY STATEMENT
An army spokesman said two avalanches hit army post and patrol in Gurez sector.
“An avalanche hit army post in Gurez yesterday. The rescue operations were immediately launched in extremely bad weather and heavy snowfall. The search operation enabled rescue of one JCO and six army men while bodies of three army men could only be retrieved,” he said.
The spokesman said an army patrol moving towards a post went missing after an avalanche hit the same area yesterday.
“The area continues to receive heavy snowfall. Braving inhospitable weather conditions, coordinated rescue operations are in progress. The rescue team has recovered bodies of seven army men and search operation is going on,” he said.
Meanwhile, 29 structures were damaged due to heavy snowfall in Budgam and Ganderbal on Thursday. In Budgam 28 structures, including 12 residential houses, three shops and Imambada were damaged due to heavy snowfall. In Ganderbal a residential house belonging to Ghulam Mohammad Najar son of Ali Mohammad Najar of Akhal in the jurisdiction of Police Station Kangan got damaged due to snowfall.