NH reopens for stranded vehicles; boy among 3 dead in separate incidents

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Banihal/Jammu: Three persons including an eight-year-old boy were killed and two others injured in two separate incidents on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway that was reopened for stranded vehicles on Saturday after remaining closed for over 17 hours due to fresh snowfall, officials said.
However, no new vehicular traffic was allowed from either Jammu or Srinagar in the morning to facilitate smooth movement of thousands of stranded commuters, the officials said.
Meanwhile, the early morning sun appeared in Jammu and other parts of the region after clouds shrouded it out for the past five days, providing relief to the people from the bone-chilling cold.
Two passengers — eight-year-old Mohammad Muzamil of Budgam and 20-year-old Mohammad Imran — were killed and two others injured late Friday evening when a Jammu-bound passenger vehicle was hit by shooting stones from the hillock overlooking the highway near Gangroo in Ramban district, officials further said.
In another incident, officials said a truck driver Ghulam Mohammad Joo, a resident of Pulwama district, was killed when he fell into a deep gorge while covering his truck with a sheet to save the loaded goods from the downpour near Nichilana on Friday evening.
Vehicular traffic on the 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was suspended at 5.30 pm on Friday due to slippery conditions following fresh snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area – the gateway to Kashmir, leaving over 8,000 vehicles comprising mostly trucks stranded, officials said.
Rains also lashed the highway, triggering multiple landslides between Ramsu and Panthiyal overnight, they said adding that the road was cleared only on Saturday morning with only stranded vehicles allowed to move towards their destinations.
The Ramban district authorities made necessary boarding arrangements for the stranded commuters, who were also accommodated by locals in their houses to keep them safe from the biting cold, officials added.
The highway town of Banihal, which received 1.5 cm of fresh snow, was the coldest place in Jammu region with a low of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius, a meteorological department official said.
He said Jammu city recorded a minimum of 6.8 degrees Celsius – a dip of 1.4 degrees below the previous day.
The residents, though, heaved a sigh of relief from the severe cold as the morning sun appeared for the first time in five days.
Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, recorded a low of 7 degrees Celsius, the official said.