Avalanches kill 186 in snowbound Kashmir

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The Independent Online

At least 175 people have been killed in avalanches and extreme cold in Indian-administered Kashmir. More than 300 are still missing after the heaviest snows in more than 40 years.

At least 175 people have been killed in avalanches and extreme cold in Indian-administered Kashmir. More than 300 are still missing after the heaviest snows in more than 40 years.

The Indian army reported as much as 70ft of snow had fallen along the line of control separating Indian and Pakistani-held Kashmir. More than 100 people were killed in an avalanche in one village, Viltengnar.

"It is a major tragedy," Nayeem Akhtar, a state government official, said. And, with many areas still completely cut off, he said the scale of the tragedy could be "much more than we know now".

Foreign tourists, including eight Britons, had to be rescued from the Ladakh area of Kashmir by air force helicopters. The Indian military says it has suspended its counter-insurgency operations against militants to concentrate on emergency relief.

About 300 people were trapped inside the Jawahar road tunnel yesterday. One end was blocked by snow, and it was too dangerous to leave at the other because of avalanches.

Thousands of motorists are stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only main road out of the Kashmir valley. Supplies were reportedly running out in villages along the road yesterday, and the Indian air force was dropping food supplied by helicopter.

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