Srinagar: Sixteen Army jawans were killed and several others trapped as avalanches struck two Army camps, barracks, three houses and one school in north Kashmir. As many as 30 jawans were rescued, six jawans are still missing, Army officials said here on Thursday evening. 

The 109 Infantry Brigade, which guards the LoC in Gurez sector in Bandipora district, located in the foothills of the Valley, is worst hit. The recent heavy snowfall had made it avalanche-prone. The relief workers continued the rescue operation late on Thursday evening.

The first avalanche struck at 9.15 PM on Wednesday and some four dozen army jawans got trapped in the debris. According to Army officials, so far thirteen dead bodies have been recovered.

Five jawans were admitted at Base Hospital in Srinagar are in critical condition.

Another avalanche struck the camp of 162 Territorial Army in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal district on Wednesday evening. Out of six jawans, while three were killed, three were admitted to nearby hospital. All three deceased jawans were identified as Mahadev Jain, Pawan Sewa and Amit Sharma. There are no missing personnel in the Sonamarg incident.

Defence Spokesman Lt 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.

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

The bad weather and snow has seriously hampered the search operation being launched by the IAF.

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 at 6000 feet and above from the sea level.

Omar expresses condolences
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday expressed his "heart felt condolences" to the families of soldiers killed in two avalanches that struck the Kashmir Valley on Thursday.
"Heart felt condolences to the families of those soldiers who lost their loved ones in the avalanches on Thursday (in) Kashmir," Omar wrote on micro-blogging website Twitter.
The Chief Minister said he was sending his minister with a personal message of condolence to the Army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps General Officer Commanding (GOC) Lt Gen S A Hasnain.