Twenty killed as avalanches sweep Indian Kashmir

Twenty people were killed by avalanches and 15 others were missing in Indian Kashmir as the heaviest snowfall in recent years brought the Himalayan region to a standstill, officials said on Saturday.

More than 300 people have been rescued from avalanche-hit areas, while many villages remained inaccessible, police said.

“More rescue and relief teams would be sent by air to the places where the need was felt,” Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

Six members of a family, including two children, were killed when an avalanche swept away their home late on Friday in the Banihal area, 110km south of Srinagar, police said.

In the neighbouring area of Kapran an avalanche killed another family of six.

In 2005, nearly 250 people were killed after heavy snowfall triggered avalanches that swept away hundreds of homes in southern Kashmir.

The Indian army, which has a large presence in the state, said it would airlift 1 500 people on Saturday who have been stranded for more than a week on a snowbound mountain highway that connects the Kashmir Valley with the rest of India.—Reuters

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