Laden : Lala Hajam and his family left their house for a 'much safer' place as they feared their kuccha house in this village in central Kashmir Budgam district might collapse due to heavy rains but they ran out of luck as death followed them.
Hajam and his four family members, who took refuge in the house of their neighbour on Sunday night, were among the 16 persons who were buried alive as the two-storey house was gulped by the caving in of earth.
Hajam had shifted to the house of his neighbour Ghulam Nabi Hajam considering the latter's house comparatively safer from his own in the snow-bound village perched atop a hillock, three kilometres from the last motorable road.
However, fate had something else in store for the two families as the house was swallowed by the earth, leaving no trace of the two-storeyed building.
It was around midnight that the residents were awakened by a sudden thud and shaking of earth. Fear stricken, they came out of their beds and saw cracks had developed in some houses. However, they got the shock of their life when they found Ghulam's house had vanished from face of earth.
"We were shocked to see that the house was nowhere. It had been buried inside the earth. It was as if there was no building at that spot ever," Ghulam Qadir Dar, a local, said.
He said the locals made immediate arrangements for trying to rescue the persons buried inside, despite rains and snowfall.
"We tried our best but there was no way we could do anything," he said, adding "we were joined by residents of adjoining villages and security forces and civil administration as the word spread".