Heavy snowfall lashed in Jammu and Kashmir for the second day in a row on Friday bringing normal life to a standstill with key roads closed and electricity cut off.
While two army jawans and one soldier lost their lives over 4,000 vehicles were left stranded as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar national highway has remained closed since Thursday following heavy snowfall and landslides triggered by heavy rainfall.
Electricity services have also been disrupted in many places. Power restoration work was started in Srinagar on Friday morning.
Moderate to heavy snowfall was reported from Srinagar, Rajouri, Batote in Ramban district in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir is facing a standstill induced by natural calamities after normal life was earlier suspended due to a lockdown imposed by the central government following the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to the erstwhile state. The state was also bifurcated into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, which came into effect on October 31.
Flight operations were adversely affected at Srinagar airport and road traffic between the valley and the Jammu region is also likely to be affected especially through Mughal Road, ANI quoted an official of the Met department as saying.
Officials said no traffic has been allowed from either the Jammu or Srinagar side due to snowfall and slippery road conditions, according to a PTI report.
A man has also died after being struck by lightning in Udhampur district, while 16 people caught in snowfall and flash floods were rescued by security personnel, officials said.
In the other incident, a car with three people on board was travelling from Chenani to Nagulta, when it was caught in a flash flood and washed away at Dabbad area of the district.
The severe weather conditions led to the death of two Army jawans on Wednesday night in a road accident in Kupwara district. The accident took place due to poor visibility caused by heavy snowfall.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam had on Thursday called for joint control rooms to be made functional throughout the winter season to keep the public informed about adverse weather and issue alerts for potential avalanches.
The chief secretary instructed the Kashmir divisional commissioner to share with the district administration, the names and contact details of the nodal officers designated for coordinating rescue and air operations, the spokesman said.
The chief secretary asked Disaster Management Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Department secretary to immediately liaise with the principal secretary of civil aviation on the commencement of air services to the snow-bound areas. He directed authorities to set up a help desk at the Srinagar airport as well.
The chief secretary also directed the DCs to sanction ex-gratia as per the norms of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to the families of the persons who lost their lives in the snowfall. He also advised the DCs to undertake restoration works immediately, wherever, required as per SDRF norms.