Over 400 stranded inside Jawahar Tunnel evacuated

The administration and troops of Two Sector Rashtriya Rifles and 36 Rashtriya Rifles evacuated the persons, who were stuck inside the 2.6-km tunnel in around 75 vehicles due to heavy snowfall in the area, official sources said today.

The sources said more than 400 persons were taken out from the tunnel and shifted to the safety of Qazigund town in Anantnag district, 75 kms from here.

The 294-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, connecting the Valley to the rest of the country, was closed yesterday after snowfall in Qazigund and Jawahar Tunnel area.

The other vehicles stranded on either side of the tunnel at Banihal and Lower Munda were also evacuated, the sources said.

The evacuation operation was started yesterday afternoon but was suspended due to continuous snowfall in the area, the sources said, adding the operation resumed in the evening and was completed at around 11 PM last night.

Two persons stuck in the tunnel were suffering from Hypothermia, a condition in which the body's core temperature drops below that required for normal metabolism and body functions, and had to be admitted to the Emergency Hospital at Qazigund, the sources said.

They said condition of 20-year-old Mohammad Iqbal and 31-year-old Bashir Ahmad was improving.

"Had it not been for the prompt support of Army and local administration, we would have got stranded and surrendered ourselves to fate," said R K Sharma, a tourist who was stuck with his family.

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