Kashmir highway reopens partially after two days closure

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Srinagar, Jan 9 (UNI) Traffic on the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway resumed this afternoon partially after remaining suspended since yesterday due to landslides and heavy snowfall.

About 500 vehicles, carrying passengers and essential commodities which were stranded on the highway since yesterday, were allowed to proceed towards their respective destinations this afternoon, a traffic police official said here.

He said majority of vehicles have crossed the danger zone on the highway, the only road linking the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.

He said decision to allow traffic tomorrow will be taken only in the morning after receiving information from the officials posted at different places on the highway.

Heavy snowfall between Jawahar tunnel and Banihal and landslides and shooting of stones at Penthal, the most trouble spot on the highway, forced the authorities to suspend the traffic, a senior traffic police official told UNI over phone from Ramban.

He said Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway, has pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to clear the highway.

The officer said no vehicle was allowed from Jammu or Srinagar this morning. ''We will clear all the stranded vehicles before allowing fresh traffic from Jammu and Srinagar,'' he added.

Official sources said about 500 vehicles, half of them carrying passengers are stranded on this side of the Penthal, where one passenger was killed after he was hit by a stone yesterday.

Shooting of stones, triggered by heavy rains at Penthal near Ramban continued, making the travel very risky, the sources said.

Sources said the highway would be declared safe for travel once the shooting of stones stopped and BRO cleared the landslides from the road.

This is the second time the highway was closed for traffic during this winter due to snowfall and landslides.

In Srinagar, traffic police officials through public address system were announcing that the highway has been closed.

UNI BAS BDP GC1453

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