|Early Times Report|
BANIHAL/JAMMU, Jan 6: Eight people were rescued after their vehicles got trapped in a mudslide near Panthiyal along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, officials said on Wednesday.
The 270-km highway was closed for traffic on Sunday following heavy snowfall and incessant rains which triggered multiple landslides and shooting of stones from the hillocks.
The eight people hailing from Rajasthan were going towards Jammu in two cars when they were caught in a mudslide near Panthiyal in Ramban district on Tuesday evening amid heavy rains, the officials said.
Both the vehicles were damaged in the incident, they said, adding the eight were returning to Jammu after being stranded en route to Kashmir for the last several days.
Meanwhile, with the improvement in the weather, agencies have pressed their men and machines to clear the highway of over a dozen landslides between Nashri to Ramsu.
Jawahar Tunnel, the gateway to Kashmir, recorded over five feet of snow since Saturday and the Border Roads Organsiation (BRO), which is maintaining this stretch of the highway, has intensified its snow clearance operation, the officials said.
Over 6000 vehicles, mostly trucks including those carrying essential commodities to the valley, have been stranded at various locations along the highway.
"The road clearance operation is going on at a war footing to ensure early restoration of traffic on the highway which is blocked at over a dozen places including Samroli, Nashri, Dalwas, Peera, Chanderkote, Cafeteria Morh, Marog, Monkey Morh, Moompassi, Seeri, Kela Morh, Panthiyal, Sherbibi, Rattanbass and Ramsu," a traffic department official said.
He said it is premature to say whether the road would be cleared by this evening.
"Once the road is cleared, the preference would be given to stranded vehicles," he said, adding the traffic on the highway will remain restricted to one-way as per the already announced schedule in view of ongoing work on the four-laning project.