Srinagar, Feb 23: 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 here today.
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 yesterday 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 yesterday.
“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.
Following are the names of 16 Army jawans including five junior commissioned officers who died in the avalanches. Three are still missing:
Killed In Sonemarg: Naib Subedar Mahadev Gain, Sepoy Puvaneswaran M (both of Army Service Corps) and Rifleman Amit Sharma of Territorial Army.
Killed in Davar Gurez: Subedar Desh Raj, Naib Subedar RS Poonia, Naib Subedar SN Yadav, Naib Subedar UB Hirve, Havaldar Om Prakash Baitha, Sepoy Vinay Kumar Bharati, Craftsman Ankit Kumar, Craftsman S Muni Samy, Sepoy Dinesh Kumar, Sepoy Sagar Biswas, Sepoy Probir Sarkar, Craftsman Shyju JP and Craftsman Nawle Manoj. (All from Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering).