20 soldiers, porters feared dead, bunkers-fencing damage near LoC

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Srinagar, Jan 10 (UNI) About 20 soldiers and porters are feared dead in snow storm and avalanches, which also damaged a number of bunkers and fencing near the Line of Control (LoC) in the twin frontier districts of Kupwara and Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir.

The entire northern belt experienced three to six feet of snowfall during the past three days, leading to closure of a number of roads.

Defence spokesman here was not available to give details about the damage caused by the snowfall.

Official sources said snow storm and avalanches hit a number of upper reaches in Baramulla and Kupwara district, damaging life and property during the past 24 hours.

They said a number of security force forward pickets near the LoC were damaged after they were buried under huge avalanches which came rolling from top of the mountains.

Several security force patrol parties guarding the LoC besides porters carrying ration to forward pickets were caught in the snow storm, caused by the heavy snowfall.

They said about 20 soldiers and porters are reported dead after they were buried under snow avalanches in the affected areas.

The most affected was Uri sector where five soldiers and eight porters were buried under a huge avalanche yesterday in the afternoon. However, two porters were rescued in a critical condition while search for others was going on when reports last came in.

The survival chances of the buried persons was very bleak as it is all white everywhere because of fresh snowfall during the night, the sources said adding rescue operation was abandoned last evening.

it was resumed again this morning.

They said services from experts of high altitude warfare school and trained dogs has been sought to trace the persons buried under snow.

Two soldiers were buried alive while six others were rescued safely after their post near the LoC came under a snow avalanche on January 8.

It was unprecedented snowfall witnessed after several years in the belt, sources said adding it has caused extensive damage to border fencing constructed to check infiltration from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK).

The infiltration from across the border was comparatively less against previous years, they said adding besides fencing, other measures were also responsible for low infiltration this year.

They said fencing suffered damage in the past also, but was repaired immediately. This time the damage would be much higher, they added.

UNI BAS LS KP1359

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