SRINAGAR — At least six Indian soldiers and six civilians were killed in five separate avalanches in the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
(India-West adds: several publications have reported that as many as 55 people were killed in the avalanches)
Army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said three separate avalanches hit three frontier Indian army and paramilitary posts in the past 24 hours along the highly militarized line of control that divides disputed Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Five soldiers were buried under snow when the post was hit by an avalanche Jan. 13 night in northern Kashmir.
Kalia said four soldiers died while one was rescued and was stable at a hospital.
In two separate avalanches in north western Kashmir an army and a paramilitary soldier were killed Jan. 14, he said.
Also badly affected by heavy snowfall was the Kashmir valley where six people died because of avalanches.
Baseer Khan, a civil administrator, said nine people were swept by an avalanche on Monday in eastern Kangan area. Four were rescued from the group while bodies of five civilians were later recovered from the snow, he said.
Another civilian also was killed in a similar incident in Bandipora area on Jan. 14.
For past two days the Himalayan region has witnessed heavy snowfall resulting in series of avalanches and landslides. Electricity lines were damaged and many roads were buried under snow affecting daily life, Khan said.
Late Jan. 14, authorities had managed to restore some power supply to the affected areas of the region.
Avalanches and landslides are common in mountainous Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.
They have caused some of the heaviest death tolls for the Indian and Pakistani armies in the region.
In 2017, at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in three avalanches, and in 2012, a massive avalanche in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir killed 140 people, including 129 Pakistani soldiers.
In related news, severe winter weather has claimed more lives as avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall killed 55 people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir while 15 died in neighboring Afghanistan.
The latest deaths raise the two countries’ overall death toll from the severe weather to 126 since Jan. 12.
The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir was the worst-affected area, with 55 deaths in the past 24 hours, said Waseem Uddin, a spokesman for Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority.
Among those fatalities, 41 died in a single avalanche in the Neelum Valley while 14 people died in elsewhere in the region, he told The Associated Press.