Minimum temp remain below normal, Amritsar continues to shiver

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (UNI) Mercury today continued to remain below the normal mark in North-West India, with Amritsar turning out to be the coldest place in the plains, though the weatherman gave the good news that the cold wave in Delhi may end soon.

Nights in the Holy City continued to get colder with the temperature dropping to minus 1.1 degrees Celsius, seven degrees below normal. Adampur, near Jalandhar, was equally cold at minus 0.6 degrees.

Despite the bright sunshine during the day, the minimum temperature stayed two to seven degrees below normal in the rest of Punjab and Haryana as chilly winds swept across the two states.

The met office warned of ground frost in the next two days in Punjab and parts of Haryana that may further damage the vegetables and sugarcane crop.

Chandigarh recorded the minimum temperature at 6.0 degrees, two degrees below normal.

The cold wave also lashed Himachal Pradesh and extreme cold conditions prevailed in the tribal areas where lakes, springs and natural water bodies had already frozen. The mercury hovered at minus 9.1 degrees at Kalpa in tribal Kinnaur district, which recorded 0.9 cms snow. Icy-cold winds lashed the capital town of Shimla recording a minimum of minus 0.7 degrees, four degrees below normal.

In Kashmir, meanwhile, Minister for Social Welfare Abdul Gani Vakil expressed concern over the delay in moving people from avalanche-prone area of Gurez to safer places and directed the local administration to seek Army assistance in their evacuation.

The Divisional Commissioner was directed to initiate measures on a war footing and arrange helicopter service to evacuate inhabitants of Nail village of Gurez to safer places where avalanche threat loomed large due to heavy snowfall.

A police spokesman said 17 families, comprising about 200 members, stuck due to recent snowfall, were rescued by Boniyar police from Dara Kunj village. The body of a porter, Mumtaz Ahmed, who was buried under a huge snow avalanche at Sadna Top on February 6, 2008, was also recovered at Zarla Karnah. A search was on for the other missing porter, he said.

Police Bandipora, meanwhile, recovered an unidentified male dead body from village Papchan this morning. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

About one thousand vehicles, including those carrying passengers and essential commodities, arrived in Srinagar till late last night after remaining stranded for about two days on the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway due to continuous snowfall, while authorities allowed traffic from Srinagar to Jammu. The Indian Air Force had also airlifted 7,000 stranded passengers from Jammu, Udhampur and Srinagar for the past three days.

The nationwide toll this winter stood at 231 with 141 deaths in Uttar Pradesh, 34 in Jammu and Kashmir, 26 in Gujarat, 16 in Himachal Pradesh, four each in Bihar and Punjab, three in Maharashtra and one each in Bihar, Sikkim and Madhya Pradesh.

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