Banihal/Udhampur/Jammu, Jun 22 (PTI) Flash floods triggered by heavy rains washed away the shuttering of an under-construction bridge and a 150-foot section of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway even as landslides in Ramban and Udhampur districts forced the closure of the strategic road for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded, officials said.
Traffic on the Mughal Road, which connects the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, was also suspended due to landslides, they said.
Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Mussarat Islam, who personally monitored the road clearance operation at various places on the national highway and the arrangements for the stay of passengers stranded in the area due to the blockade of the road, said 25 of 30 landslides and mudslides on the highway has been cleared.
The DC said the work to clear landslides, which blocked the highway at Mehar, Panthyal, Shanpalace, Marog, is going on.
He said the road will be cleared for vehicular traffic very soon.
“Meanwhile, the district administration has made arrangements for night stay, meals and other facilities for the stranded passengers,” Islam said.
He appealed to the commuters to contact traffic control rooms before starting their journey on the highway.
“The shuttering of under-construction Peerah bridge was washed away due to heavy rains (on highway),” a police official said, adding the one which is normally used for traffic is safe.
In Udhampur district, a 150-foot stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar highway was washed away on Wednesday near Toldi Nallah, 16 kilometers away from Udhampur town, officials said.
Many machines were involved in the work to restore the road patch swept away in the flash floods in the Tawi river. “Chances of road opening today are minimum. There are no reports of any loss of life,” they said.
“The Jammu-Srinagar highway is blocked due to fresh shooting stones and landslides at several places in Ramban district,” a traffic official said.
Over 33 landslides, mudslides and incidents of shooting stones were reported on the 270-km highway in Ramban and Udhampur districts, he said.
The highway was closed for traffic due to shooting stones at Panthiyal on Tuesday. Work is on to clear the highway, the officials said.
The situation at Battery Cheshma on the highway is bad as a lot of mud is to be cleared to ensure that heavy vehicles trapped in it are cleared, they said.
The road connecting Khari to Mahoo and Khari to Nachlana blocked due to mudslides and shooting stones and part of the road sank at Hirnihaal, they said, adding the people are advised not to venture out.
According to some reports, over 1,500 vehicles are stranded at various places along the highway.
As highway continues to be closed for traffic, stranded passengers were provided with food and medical facilities, the officials said. It is still raining in Ramsoo-Ramban sector as of now, they officials.
The highway was blocked due to shooting stones and landslides at several places. Over 400 cars, SUVs, trucks and buses were stuck between Dalwas South of Chenani Tunnel and Banihal, they said, adding stranded passengers gave numerous distress calls for rescue to safer places.
“Area between Ramban and Nachlana has been badly affected. In a swift response, Indian Army launched two columns of rescue teams from Digdaul in the affected areas to evacuate stranded passengers to safe locations,” the officials said.
In addition, the Army also provided hot meals and security to approximately 300 stranded passengers including 100 children, women and drivers of vehicles throughout Tuesday night, who were stuck near Ramsoo.
The Army is also trying to assist in recovery of the vehicles which had skidded off the road. However, incessant rains since Tuesday Night and multiple landslides in Chanderkot-Banihal stretch on the highway are hampering rescue efforts, the officials said. PTI AB AB AQS AQS
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Source: The Print