Death toll from deadly Kashmir avalanches climbs to 20

AFP , Friday 27 Jan 2017

Rescuers retrieved the bodies Friday of another four Indian soldiers buried beneath tonnes of snow in Kashmir, taking the death toll from a series of avalanches to 20, the military said.

The disaster struck an army post and a patrol along the de facto border that divides the disputed territory with Pakistan on Wednesday.

All eleven members of the patrol, that was approaching a border post along the Line of Control (LoC), were killed.

"Four more bodies were recovered today (Friday). No one else is missing," army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told AFP.

Another separate torrent of snow in the same remote Gurez area buried three other troops at an army post.

The bodies of ten soldiers were pulled from the snow Thursday.

Dozens of Indian and Pakistani soldiers are killed by avalanches almost every winter along the LoC.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been witnessing one of the most severe winters in recent decades, with heavy snow across the territory and temperatures dropping to minus seven degrees Celsius (19 degrees Fahrenheit).

Four members of a single family died Wednesday in the same area when the house they were sleeping in was hit by an avalanche. A lone survivor was rescued.

One soldier was also killed in northern Sonmarg area of the territory when a camp was hit by an avalanche.

Authorities have issued avalanche warnings, advising residents in mountainous areas not to venture out.

On Thursday a 60-year-old man died when he came under mounds of snow as he stepped out of his home on a hilly slope in northwest Uri near the LoC, a police officer said.

Police last week evacuated 80 villagers from Waltengoo Nar -- where dozens were killed after a series of avalanches hit the area in 2005 -- in the south of the territory.

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