Antony mourns loss of lives in avalanches in J&K



New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday expressed grief at the death of soldiers in avalanches that hit Army camps in Jammu and Kashmir's Sonamarg and Gurez sectors.

In a message to the family members of the victims, Antony said, "My thoughts are with the near and dear one of the deceased in this hour of tragedy, wishing speedy recovery for those injured in the incident."

The Defence Minister said the government will provide all relief and rehabilitation measures to the affected families.

At least 14 jawans were killed and several others feared trapped when avalanches struck two army camps in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts of the Kashmir Valley last night.

Defence Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel JS Brar said it was for the first time that an avalanche has hit the spot. "There are no records of an avalanche hitting this place earlier," he said.

The 109 Infantry Brigade, which guards the Line of Control (LoC) in Gurez sector, is stationed in the foothills of the Kashmir Valley. The recent heavy snowfall had made it avalanche-prone.

Heavy snowfall across the Kashmir Valley, particularly in areas close to the LoC, had prompted authorities to issue an avalanche warning for most areas lying close to the mountains.

Based on inputs provided by the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), the state disaster management cell had been issuing daily avalanche warnings for the past 14 days for areas located 6,000 ft and above from sea level.

PTI