Kashmir highway remains closed, IAF flights for stranded passengers

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Srinagar, Feb 9 (UNI) The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country for the 6th day today following closure of the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway due to snow avalanches and landslides.

Meanwhile, the India Air Force will operate special flights for passengers stranded at Jammu and Srinagar, while air traffic resumed yesterday following improvement in the weather condition.

About 1,000 vehicles, including those carrying essential commodities and passengers, were stranded at different places on the highway.

A traffic police official said here the highway, the only road linking the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country was still closed.

He said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway have pressed into service sophisticated machines and hundreds of workers to make the road traffic worthy as soon as possible.

Two huge snow avalanches on the road in Jawahar tunnel area were cleared by the BRO. The road is almost through, but because of slippery condition, traffic will be allowed only after getting green signal from the BRO and traffic police officials posted at different points, official sources said.

A senior traffic police official told UNI over phone from tunnel area that only stranded vehicles, particularly those carrying essential supply, would be allowed to move towards Srinagar when the road reopens.

He said no vehicle would be allowed from Jammu or Srinagar till all the stranded vehicles are cleared.

He said only stranded vehicles would be allowed to move towards their respective destinations once the clearance is through.

Heavy rains also triggered landslides and shooting of stones at Penthal, the most troubled spot on the highway.

Jawahar tunnel and Banihal recorded more than seven feet of snowfall till yesterday morning. The weather was clear today, official sources said.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said IAF had made arrangements to airlift more than 5000 passengers stranded at Jammu and Srinagar.

Officials here said that passengers intending to avail the IAF facility would have to pay amount equal to fare of deluxe bus service from Srinagar to Jammu.

UNI BAS SBC KP1252

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