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Fresh snowfall, landslides close Sgr-Jmu highway, flights cancelled

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Holding his ‘nearly breaking down umbrella’, a boatman pulls his Shikara on Dal waters on Thursday as fresh snow lashes Srinagar. Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Jan 31: The Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed for traffic Thursday due to fresh snowfall and landslides, officials said.

Due to fresh snowfall and slippery road conditions in Banihal-Ramban sector and a fresh landslide in Ramban stretch, the highway has been closed for traffic, they said.

This has been done to ensure that no vehicle gets struck on the highway.

"No vehicle has been allowed to move to Kashmir Valley from Jammu from Nagrota traffic check post," a traffic police officer said.

The men and machines of BRO are working on the highway to clear the highway of the snowfall accumulation and landslides, they said.

Traffic authorities Thursday morning assessed the weather and road conditions and subsequently suspended traffic on the highway, they said.

While traffic was allowed for couple of days on the arterial road earlier this week, frequent landslides and snowfall around the tunnel area has forced closure of the highway for most of the past two weeks.

The closure of the road has resulted in shortage of essentials like cooking gas and eatables including vegetables and mutton, besides pushing up the prices of edibles in the Valley.

However, officials of the divisional administration maintain that some trucks, which were stranded along the highway, have been able to reach here over the past two days.

"The supplies have reached, we have enough stocks of essentials. There is no need to panic," a senior official was quoted as saying by PTI.

Meanwhile, the snowfall, coupled with poor visibility also forced cancellation of nine flights scheduled for Thursday.

"No aircraft has arrived at Srinagar airport since this morning. Nine flights have been cancelled so far. If the weather does not improve, rest of the flights will also be cancelled," an official of the Airport Authority of India said.

Srinagar has witnessed the cold wave breaking nearly three-decade old record as mercury plunged to minus 7.8 degrees Celsius on 27 December 2018. It recorded a low of minus 8.8 degrees Celsius in 1990, which still is a record low in past 30 years.

Gulmarg and Pahalgam, the two famous tourist resorts in the Valley, saw the mercury sliding up to 15 degrees Celsius below the freezing point during Chillai-Kalan.

In Ladakh division there was not much change in night temperatures across the Valley compared to the previous night.

The weatherman has forecast more rain or snowfall in the Valley over the next few days, with chances of precipitation lesser on Saturday and Sunday.

According to MET department officials, 'Chillai-Kalan' which ended on Thursday was harshest in more than a decade and the cold wave is expected to continue in Kashmir as the Valley has entered the 20-day period Chillai-Khurd (small cold) which will be followed by 10-day long Chilla-Bachha (baby cold).

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