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Indian Air Force rescues 203 civilians trapped in Indian-controlled Kashmir


12:53, January 24, 2013

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- At least 203 civilians including women and children trapped in a remote snowbound area of Indian-controlled Kashmir were rescued safely Wednesday by Indian Air Force (IAF) men, officials said.

They were stranded in snowbound villages of Navpachchi, Sondar and Inshian in Kishtwar district, around 275 km northeast of Jammu city, the winter capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"Today IAF men rescued all 203 civilians from the remotest part of Kishtwar," said S N Acharaya, an Indian defense spokesman in Jammu. "The rescue operation was carried on the request of the government."

The villagers were stranded in these villages for the past several days, following a heavy snowfall that cut off the road links to the area. Traffic to these places also remains suspended in wake of accumulation of snow on the roads.

Acharaya said the operation was carried throughout the day and the temperature in these villages was minus nine degrees Celsius.

"After a full day of sorties the rescue team was able to shift all the civilians including children and patients to safer places," he said.

Kashmir has a rugged terrain. Landslides and avalanches are often triggered from its mountains during frequent rains and heavy snowfall.

Authorities last week evacuated 140 people who were trapped in avalanche prone village Waltengo Nard of Qazigund in Anantnag district, around 75 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital.

In 2005, a snowstorm hit Waltengo Nard village killing 158 people and injuring scores of others.

The plains and upper reaches of Indian-controlled Kashmir experienced snowfall last week, following which officials issued high and medium range avalanche warnings for the people inhabiting upper reaches and areas close to the line-of-control (LoC).

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