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Avalanches hit army posts in JK, 16 troopers killed

Last updated on: February 23, 2012 19:06 IST

Sixteen army personnel, including five officers, were killed and nine others injured in two avalanches in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts of Kashmir Valley.

"Massive avalanches hit two Army Posts in Central and North Kashmir on Wednesday, resulting in the death of 16 soldiers. Three jawans are still missing," Defence spokesman Lt Colonel J S Brar said on Thursday.

Rescue operations were hampered by heavy snowfall which continued through the day.

The first avalanche hit the workshop area of the 109 Infantry Brigade, which guards the LoC in Gurez sector, at around 10 pm on Wednesday in Dawar area in Bandipora.

"Thirteen jawans lost their lives and as many were rescued, while three jawans are still missing," Brar said. Of the 13 army personnel who were killed, four were Junior Commissioned Officers, officials said, adding that four soldiers were also injured in the incident.

"This particular area is not normally avalanche prone and is cut off from the rest of the Valley in winter months...Rescue operations are being hindered by heavy snow and bad weather conditions...A specialised team from High Altitude Warfare School along with two avalanche rescue dogs have reached the spot," the spokesman said.

An official of the state's Disaster Management Cell said the avalanche damaged 25 army vehicles and 17 barracks. Four abandoned residential houses and a school building were also damaged.

The spokesman said another avalanche hit an Army Post at Sonamarg in Ganderbal district in Central Kashmir at about 4.45 pm on Wednesday.

"One Junior Commissioned Officer and two jawans died, while six persons - one JCO, three jawans and two civil porters - were injured," he said, adding that nine army personnel were rescued.

"Major damage to infrastructure has also taken place," Brar said.

(with inputs from PTI)

Mukhtar Ahmad