Jammu-Srinagar highway remains blocked amid heavy rain, stranded passengers rescued

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Jammu: NHAI authorities on Sunday morning stepped up efforts to resume traffic movement on Jammu-Srinagar national highway following improvement in weather, officials said.

As the 270-km highway, the only all weather link connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country, remained shut for a second day, police shifted a large number of stranded passengers, including over 200 tourists to safer places in Ramban district, they said.

The highway was closed early Saturday following landslides, mudslides and shooting stones, triggered by heavy rainfall at over a dozen places between Nashri and Banihal including Dalwas, Mehad-Cafetia and Hingni in Ramban, the officials said.

A portion of the road near Panthiyal was also washed away, they said.

The traffic department said the highway continues to remain blocked and advised people to avoid journeys on the highway, also known as NH44, till the completion of the restoration work.

With the improvement in weather this morning, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has stepped up efforts to ensure early opening of the arterial road.

While higher reaches experienced fresh snowfall, moderate to heavy rains lashed wide parts of Jammu and Kashmir on March 1 and 2. Dozens of residential houses and other structures, including several government schools, were also damaged by strong winds and hailstorm in different parts of the Union Territory.

The police have set up control rooms in all district headquarters after incessant rains flooded the water bodies to meet any eventuality, the officials said, requesting people to stay away from the swollen rivers, rivulets, streams and ponds.

A police spokesperson said several families who were trapped in the Bowli Bazar area of Ramban due to a heavy mudslide were rescued late Saturday night.

Over 200 tourists from Kerala who were left stranded in Banihal on their return from Kashmir were relocated to a safe shelter house on Saturday night and provided with essential amenities like food, blankets, and quilts, the spokesperson said.

He added that a vehicle got stuck in a mudslide at Cafeteria Morh along the highway but prompt action by the police rescued all the individuals safely.

In another instance, six men, four women and a child who were stranded at Nachlana due to heavy rain and shooting stones were rescued and shifted a safer place, the spokesman said.

Expanding their efforts, the police provided essential relief to stranded passengers on the blocked highway, offering water, food, tea, and more, he said.

Anticipating unforeseen circumstances due to heavy rainfall, the police, in collaboration with the Disaster Response Team and Quick Response Team, are on high alert, the spokesperson said, adding that these dedicated teams are prepared to reach any area within 15 minutes.

Traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar highway has been restricted to one-way since February 26 and was being used alternatively from Jammu and Srinagar after heavy rains and snowfall damaged the arterial road at several places last week.

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