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23 May 2024

Norwegian skier missing, 4 soldiers dead in avalanches, heavy snow in Indian Kashmir

By Agencies



Avalanches and heavy snow storms killed four Indian soldiers and left 12 people missing, including one Norwegian skier, in India’s portion of Kashmir, officials said Thursday.

Fifteen people, including seven Indian army soldiers, were swept away in an avalanche Wednesday near Uri town on the Line of Control, the de facto frontier dividing Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, said Lt. Col. A. K. Mathur, an army spokesman.

Of those, rescuers found two surviving soldiers and the bodies of two more, Mathur said. Eight civilian porters and three soldiers remained missing, he said.

Separately, two Indian soldiers were killed when they were swept away by cascading snow in Machil sector near the Line of Control, Mathur said.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan and has caused two wars between the archrivals since they became independent from Britain in 1947. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers are posted along either side of the Line of Control.

Franciska Rogne of Norway has been reported missing since Tuesday at Gulmarg, a ski resort about 50 kilometres northwest of Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, said Sarmad Hafiz, a senior tourist officer.

Rogne was last seen leaving her hotel with a skiing gear, Hafiz said, adding that a heavy snowstorm began shortly after.

“We’ve launched a rescue operation, but snowfall in the area is causing hurdles in the rescue operation,” Hafiz said. “There is an advisory to inform the ski petrol and not to go beyond marked areas for skiing.”

Last year, Rogne and two other foreign tourists, Gay Landen of Israel and Ido Neigu from Canada, were rescued after they veered off the ski trail in Gulmarg following an avalanche. An Australian skier was killed last year in the region.

Frequent rain and heavy snowfall trigger avalanches and landslides in Kashmir, blocking roads and making skiing in the high slopes of Gulmarg extremely difficult.

The authorities have stopped skiing in the upper reaches of Gulmarg because of low visibility and heavy snowfall since Monday. (AP)