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JK police rescues 350 people stuck in snowstorm on Zojilla Pass

By Mukhtar Ahmad
November 26, 2009 13:31 IST
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The Jammu and Kashmir police has rescued 350 people, who were stranded at the Zojila Pass, which connects Kashmir Valley to the cold desert region of Ladakh, due to heavy snowfall.

Most of those rescued consisted of labourers from Nepal and Bihar who had been stranded on the strategic pass following heavy snowfall and stormy winds in the area for the over two days.

The Jammu and Kashmir police had dispatched search-and-rescue teams, who braved the bad weather, poor visibility, blizzards and slippery conditions on the Zojila Pass, to rescue the people.

"The rescue parties, comprising 150 policemen and officers, finally managed to evacuate all the 350 stranded passengers and brought them safely to Sonamarg," said Inspector General of Police, Kashmir zone, Farooq Ahmad.

"The rescue operations were completed early on Thursday, when the last batch of 40 people was evacuated safely from different areas of the pass."

Imtiyaz Ahmad, district police chief of north Kashmir's Ganderbal district who supervised the rescue operation, said two policemen had been injured during the evacuation process.

He added that 11 vehicles, which had also got stranded, could not be shifted and that they have been parked in the non-avalanche zones of the mountainous pass after rescuing the occupants.

The pass remains closed for over six months because of heavy snowfall. A single road is the only link that connects Ladakh to rest of the state.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar