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Massive Avalanche In Kashmir, More May Follow - Observe Caution

February 23, 2024 2:41 PM |

A massive avalanche swept through the peak of Affarwat, on the Kongdoori slopes, in the Khilan Marg area. Affarwat has an elevation of over 14,000 feet and remains snow-clad almost throughout the year. The avalanche claimed the life of a Russian skier. Five others were rescued. This region is a popular Himalayan Ski resort in Kashmir. Following heavy snowfall for 3-4 days, the area was placed under danger zone and an avalanche warning was issued by the disaster management team.

Back-to-back western disturbances dumped very heavy snow in the mid and higher reaches of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh regions. Heavy to very heavy snowfall trounced the entire region, starting 18th Feb, till 20th Feb. Remnant of the weather system continued the weather activity on 21st Feb also, on a lesser scale. Following this, an avalanche warning was in place for the elevated areas and mountain peaks of the region. The Kongdoori slopes were placed out of bounds for any adventure activity.

Avalanches become very common in the higher peaks and slopes, following incessant snowfall. This was the second spell of heavy snowfall in the month of Feb 2024, for Jammu & Kashmir. Earlier, Kashmir Valley was blanketed with heavy snow, at the start of the month, between 01st and 03rd Feb. Following this, there was a huge avalanche in the Ganderbal area of Kashmir, on 08th Feb. Fortunately, there was no damage to the life and property. Many times, the impacted area may fall in the inhibited zone and therefore, may not suffer losses. However, the avalanche on Kongdoori slopes trapped the foreigners, attempting mountaineering activities in the danger zone.

An avalanche refers to the roll down of piles of snow, accumulated over the slopes, following intense and incessant snowfall activity. It is a ‘no notice’ calamity like the earthquake. Avalanche strikes unannounced and the rolling debris comes down with lightning speed, dragging stacked snow, mud and rocks, if any. The momentum of the disaster demolishes anything on its path and decimates structures, trees, materials and human beings, if any. 

The entire slopes in the Kashmir Valley have witnessed very heavy snowfall. There is over 5-10 feet of snow in places. Weather activity has ceased, albeit temporarily. The lifting of inclement weather conditions adds another dimension to the danger in these areas. The slight rise in the temperatures may be able to loosen the base of the snow stacks. There is a possibility for these snow mounds to crumble under their own weight and collapse down the slopes. The danger is not yet over. One week period, after the cessation of weather activity, remains very crucial and vulnerable for the avalanche. Extreme caution needs to be exercised to safeguard life and assets.

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