5 missing after avalanches hit Army posts near LoC

5 missing after avalanches hit Army posts near LoC

At least five Army personnel went missing after avalanches, triggered by heavy snowfall, struck two forward posts in Gurez and Nowgam sectors of north Kashmir's Bandipora and Kupwara districts on Tuesday.

A police official said the avalanche hit an Army post at Baktoor near the Line of Control (LoC) in Gurez sector during the intervening night and at least three soldiers were reported missing.

"Efforts are on to trace the soldiers but continuous snowfall was hampering the rescue and search efforts," he said, adding the area has had snowfall reaching almost five feet.

In another incident, two soldiers went missing after an avalanche hit the post of 20 Dogra in Nowgam area of Kupwara on Monday night, sources said. "Heavy snowfall is hampering rescue operation," Army officials said.

An Army porter also went missing since Monday after being hit by an avalanche in Tulail in Gurez sector. Gurez is a valley nestled among high mountains in Bandipore district and is located around 150 km from here. It falls on the LoC and is a preferred infiltration route for militants.

Earlier in January in a series of four avalanches 24 persons, including 20 soldiers and four civilians had died. On February 23, 2012, a massive avalanche had struck the 'workshop area' of 109 Infantry Brigade Dawar area of Gurez sector, in which 13 soldiers including four junior commissioned officers lost their lives.

In February 2005, nearly two hundred people died after a devastating snow storm and avalanches hit two remote villages of south Kashmir's Kulgam district. Almost every winter, dozens of Indian and Pakistani soldiers are killed by avalanches along the LoC. In 2012, a massive avalanche in the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir killed 140 people, including 129 soldiers.

With the Met office forecasting more heavy snow across Kashmir over the next two days, authorities have sounded an alert asking people to remain indoors and not to venture out near avalanche prone areas.

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