Heavy snow in Kashmir closes highway
Heavy snowfall over the past two days has closed down Indian-administered Kashmir's main highway, stranding hundreds of travellers, officials said. So far there has been one weather-related fatality in the scenic Himalayan state after a nomad was killed in a snowstorm, police said.
The heavy snowfall has also knocked out power and telephone lines and closed major roads, including the main highway connecting the Kashmir valley with the state winter capital Jammu and the rest of India.
"The main highway has been shut due to heavy snow and we are working to restore the link," Amir Ali, the head of Kashmir's disaster management department, told.
"We are also trying our best to restore power," he said.
A police officer said more than 1,000 trucks, cars, buses and jeeps were stranded at various points along the 300-km (190-mile) main highway.
"The vehicles were carrying passengers, including tourists. The trucks were loaded with supplies for Kashmir valley," the officer said.
Labourers were using bulldozers, snow removal machines and shovels to open up the zigzag highway, the main route for supplies to the Kashmir valley from Jammu and the rest of the subcontinent. Stranded passengers, including children, complained of hardships.
"We have been stranded for over 48 hours now amid freezing cold and there has been no help from the government so far," passenger Yasin Mir said by phone from Batote, a mountainous mid-point on the highway.
There are very few shelter houses along the highway.
Kashmir is held in parts by India and Pakistan and both claim the region in full. The Indian portion has been battling a deadly insurgency since 1989.