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Six Dead in Avalanches Sweeping through India’s Disputed Kashmir Region | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Vehicles navigate their way through a waterlogged street in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir on April 6, 2017. (AP)

Six people were killed and two were missing on Friday in avalanches that were triggered by heavy rain and snowfall in Kashmir in northern India.

Helicopters were deployed to rescue people cut off by flash floods that revived memories of 2014, when the Jhelum River flowing through the region’s main city, Srinagar, burst its banks, swamping homes and killing 200 people.

Snowfalls triggered multiple avalanches, defense spokesman Rajesh Kalia said.

“We launched rescue operations and two were rescued alive. But this morning three bodies were retrieved from under the snow,” he told AFP.

Three soldiers were killed after avalanches struck a high-altitude army post after heavy snowfall in the disputed Himalayan region.

Dozens of Indian and Pakistani soldiers are killed by avalanches almost every winter in the region.
This winter has been particularly harsh, and in January avalanches killed dozens of people including Indian soldiers and civilians.

Lower altitude areas have suffered heavy rains, prompting authorities to shut schools until Sunday and close the region’s main highway over landslide fears.

In the Poonch region, an Indian Air Force helicopter was guided by a soldier holding a flare towards a group of villagers stranded on the far bank of a river. They climbed a rope ladder into the craft, which then flew them to safety.

Rajiv Pandey, senior superintendent of police in Poonch, said 17 people were evacuated from the area.

In Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, some low-lying districts along the Jhelum were swamped but residents said the river was starting to recede.

“We are relieved as the water level is receding and the rains are reducing,” said one resident. “We are praying that rain should stop.”