Landslides block Jammu-Srinagar highway; Mughal, Simthan roads closed after first snowfall
The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, linking Kashmir with rest of country, was blocked by a massive landslide triggered by heavy rains at Cafeteria Morh near Ramban town, forcing suspension of traffic
The traffic on the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and Mughal and Kishtwar-Simthan roads were suspended on Saturday as heavy rains and spells of hail storm lashed several parts of Jammu, with higher reaches experiencing first moderate snowfall, officials said.
Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Reasi district, experienced the highest 90.7 mm of rainfall, between 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, but the pilgrimage continued without any disruption, they said.
The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was blocked by a massive landslide triggered by heavy rains at Cafeteria Morh near Ramban town, forcing suspension of traffic, Senior Superintendent of Police (national highway) Shabir Malik said.
He said falling of stones from hillock overlooking the highway along with mudslides were also reported from several places between the Ramban-Banihal sector, including Kela Morh and Moumpassi.
"The incessant rains are hampering the restoration work on the highway. It will take at least five hours to clear the landslide in Cafeteria Morh area after the rain stops," Malik said, adding that the agencies concerned have kept their men and machines ready to carry out the road clearance operation.
As there was no let-up in the rain and the weatherman predicting its continuation for Sunday, the traffic department ordered closure of the highway for Sunday as well.
Officials said the traffic on the Mughal Road, an alternate link connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region with south Kashmir's Shopian district, was also suspended due to moderate snowfall at Peer Ki Gali and adjoining areas overnight.
Besides Peer Ki Gali along the Mughal Road, reports of first moderate snowfall were also received from higher reaches of Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri and Reasi districts, the officials said, adding that at least a dozen stranded persons were evacuated to safety in Peer Ki Gali area.
The officials said Kishtwar-Simthan road, an alternate link between Jammu and south Kashmir, was also closed for traffic due to moderate snowfall in Simthan top area.
A weather office spokesperson said moderate rainfall over plains and light to moderate snow was observed over middle and upper reaches during the last 12 hours.
The weatherman has forecast wet weather in the twin Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh for the next 24 hours, and said there will be a significant improvement from October 24 afternoon and the dry weather is likely to prevail thereafter till November 2.
Jammu and other parts were lashed by heavy rains and several spells of hailstorm during the day, disrupting normal life besides damaging standing crops.
Jammu recorded 81.8 mm of rainfall between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm, the weather spokesperson said, adding that the day temperature in the city fell and settled at 16.6 degrees Celsius which was 13.4 notches below normal during this part of the season.
The city had recorded 12.8 mm of rainfall overnight and a minimum temperature of 15.1 degrees Celsius, 1.6 degrees below normal.
Banihal in Ramban district recorded 46.8 mm of rainfall during the day, the spokesperson added.