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3 persons killed, apple orchards suffer damage as snowfall, rains hit Kashmir

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Srinagar: Three persons were killed while apple orchards suffered extensive damage as parts of Kashmir received snowfall and plains were lashed by heavy rains on Saturday, leading to the early onset of winter-like conditions.

The snowfall and rains, which started late on Friday night, triggered a mudslide that hit a tent set up by nomadic Bhakerwals in Noorpora in the Tral area of Pulwama district, leaving three persons, including two women dead, and one critically injured, officials said.

Reports said that mudslide toppled the makeshift tent belonging to one Irshad Ahmad, son of Abdul Gafoor near Mini Secretariat Noorpora Tral.

Soon, locals who were later joined by police, launched a rescue operation and rescued all four persons in critical condition from the debris and took them to hospital, an official said.

However, three among them succumbed to the injuries at the hospital while the condition of another remains critical, a police officer said. He said that the injured has been shifted to Srinagar hospital for specialized treatment.

The victims belonged to Reasi district in the Jammu division, they added.

The officials said moderate snowfall was recorded in Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Shopian and Gurez areas of the Valley while Minamarg and Drass in Ladakh also received snowfall since Friday night.

The officials said light snowfall was reported from some areas in Pulwama and Kulgam districts, while some areas in the plains, including summer capital Srinagar, received sleet.

They said Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district received about five inches of snowfall from the morning till 2.30 pm, while Sonamarg resort in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district recorded seven inches of snowfall.

The snowfall has caused extensive damage to apple orchards in some areas of the Valley, especially in Shopian and Kulgam districts in south Kashmir where most of the horticulture produce was yet to be harvested.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami has expressed concern over the losses caused to orchardists by the untimely snowfall and demanded immediate compensation for them.

“A large number of fruit-bearing trees are reported to have suffered damages due to unseasonal snowfall, witnessed in several parts of Kashmir valley. Reportedly 50 percent fruit crop was yet to be harvested in twin districts of Shopian and Kulgam. There should be an immediate assessment of losses suffered by the orchardists,” Tarigami said in a statement.

He said the government must depute expert teams to assess the losses, especially in south Kashmir which has been the worst hit.

He also expressed grief over the death of three members of a nomadic family in Tral.

Meanwhile, heavy rainfall was going on in Srinagar and other plains of the Valley since Friday night, the officials said.

The rainfall has caused water-logging in many areas of the city.

The meteorological department said the present weather condition would most likely continue till Saturday night.

“Expect gradual decrease in rain/snow from evening. Heavy rain is most likely to continue especially in south Kashmir, Chenab valley, Pirpanjal, Reasi, Poonch, Rajouri etc. Precipitation is decreasing gradually from north Kashmir,” it said.

Meanwhile, all the regional political parties including NC, PDP, JKPC, CPI(M) and others have appealed the LG administration to come up with a package to help the orchadists who suffered huge losses due to untimely snowfall.

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