New Delhi, Feb 7 (UNI) The death toll in the ongoing cold spell shot up to 213 even as icy cold conditions persisted in most parts of the North West India today with the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remaining closed for the fourth consecutive day due to more than seven feet of snow and landslides.
A total of 141 deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh, 28 in Jammu and Kashmir, 20 in Gujarat, ten in Himachal Pradesh, four each in Bihar and Punjab, three in Maharashtra and one each in Bihar, Sikkim and Madhya Pradesh.
Coldwave in Gujarat continuing since last fortnight claimed five lives in last 48 hours. Border town Nalia in Kutch recorded lowest temperature in the state at 0.4 degrees Celsius while at 7.2 degrees Porbandar in Saurashtra recorded a 30-year low temperature.
Heaviest snowfall in five years crippled normal life in the Kashmir valley where two porters and as many soldiers were among five killed after they were buried alive under snow avalanches. More than two dozen houses and other structures were also damaged overnight.
About 1000 vehicles, including those carrying passengers, were stranded on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which remained closed for the fourth consecutive day due to more than seven feet snow and landslides, triggered by heavy rains.
Authorities have sounded a warning of snow avalanches. Also, barring one, all incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled in the state for the third consecutive day following heavy snowfall and poor visibility.
People shivered under severe cold in Punjab and Haryana even as the cold wave conditions have abated from these states. Some areas in Punjab, including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Nangal, had brief spells of rain.
The minimum temperatures hovered at 3.2 degrees at Adampur, 3.3 degrees at Amritsar and 4.5 degrees at Ludhiana while it stayed below normal in Haryana with Narnaul recording 4.3 degrees, Karnal 4.8 degrees and Ambala 6.3 degrees.
Tribal districts of Lahaul spiti and Kinnaur and Pangi valley and Bharmour area in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh had another spell of snowfall since last night, plummeting the temperature.
Adjacent tourist destinations of Kufari and Narkanda recorded more than 30 cm of fresh overnight snow following which vehicular traffic on the National Highway No 22 has been suspended beyond Shimla.
A piercing cold wave lashed the tribal belt following snowfall.
The mercury, however, rose to minus 4.8 degrees at Kalpa in Kinnaur district. Shimla town registered the minimum at 0.1 degrees.
The heaviest snowfall of this winter season in the state had been left as many as 39 people stranded at different snow-ridden areas.
In the national capital, the mercury dropped sharply to 6.4 degrees.
The Weatherman attributed the drop in mercury to the absence of the thick cloud cover, which had caused a rise in temperatures in the past two days, as well as the influence of cold Northwesterly winds.
In Uttar Pradesh, some parts experienced light showers for a second consecutive day while a rise in the mercury gave some respite to people from the cold weather prevailing in the state for the last couple of days.
Night temperature soared in Lucknow, Allahabad and the neighbouring areas, the met department said.
Light drizzles occurred at some parts of north Bihar as well but slight increase in the mercury gave some respite to the people.
Mount Abu in Rajasthan continued to reel under sub-zero temperature with the mercury hovering three degrees below the freezing point.
The desert towns of Jaisalmer and Churu reeled under intense cold recording minimum temperatures of 3 degrees and 3.5 degrees respectively.
Rain or thundershowers are likely to occur at a few places in Jharkhand, north Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep.
Weatherman has forecast rain or thundershowers at isolated places in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, West Bengal, Sikkim, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, south Chhattisgarh, Marathwada, Andhra Pradesh, interior Karnataka and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Mainly dry weather will prevail over south Rajasthan, Gujarat, Konkan, Goa, Madhya Maharashtra and coastal Karnataka.
UNI Team KD RAI1909