Heavy snowfall in J&K, U'khand; Jammu-Srinagar highway closed

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New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) Several high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand received heavy snowfall on Monday that affected normal life and forced closure of the key Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

In Kashmir, authorities issued an avalanche warning for four districts as the higher reaches of the Union Territory received moderate to heavy snowfall.

The avalanche warning has been issued in Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla districts of north Kashmir, and Ganderbal district in central Kashmir, officials said.

Upper Himalayan areas in Uttarakhand received the season's first heavy snowfall, intensifying cold conditions across the state.

Snowfall began at all places in the upper Himalayan areas including Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Auli and Harsil on Sunday night and continued till Monday morning, wrapping them in thick, white sheets of snow, according to officials.

Heavy snowfall delayed the departure of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat for Badrinath after they had offered prayers at Kedarnath temple and attended a ceremony for the closure of its portals for winter. The two chief ministers had arrived at Kedarnath on Sunday and were scheduled to leave for Badrinath temple after the closure of Kedarnath gates at 8.30 am on Monday.

An information department official in Chamoli said the two chief ministers were in Kedarnath as their helicopter could not take off due to the inclement weather.

Heavy snowfall began at Kedarnath on Sunday night and continued till Monday, delaying their departure.

In Jammu and Kashmir, security forces have rescued 10 people, including two women and a child, after they were trapped in heavy snowfall at the high-altitude Sinthan pass, a defence spokesperson said.

The rescue operation was carried out late Sunday night after information was received about a group of civilians stranded at Sinthan pass that connects Kishtwar district of Jammu region with Kashmir's Anantnag, he said.

The rescue team, comprising army and police personnel, walked for five hours along the National Highway 244 in zero visibility conditions during the night and brought the stranded people to Sinthan ground where they were provided with food and shelter, the spokesperson said. Heavy snowfall in the Union Territory also affected traffic on major roads.

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic following snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides from the hillocks at several places in Ramban district, officials said.

The alternate link between the valley and rest of the country, Mughal Road, also remained closed for the third day as high-altitude areas experienced snowfall, while plains of Jammu and other parts were lashed by rains since Sunday afternoon, the officials said. PTI TEAM ANB ANB ANB