Russian Skier Dead After Avalanche In J&K’s Gulmarg, 6 Others Rescued

Gulmarg witnessed a dry spell in the first few weeks of January.

One skier from Russia has died after a massive avalanche hit Gulmarg, a ski resort town in Jammu and Kashmir, today. Seven skiers from Russia were hit by the avalanche and six have been rescued. 

Helicopters were deployed for search and rescue operations. The massive avalanche hit the upper reaches of Gulmarg today near the Kongdoori slopes, officials said. The foreigners had gone to the ski slopes without locals, PTI reported, quoting officials. 

Personnel of the Army and a patrolling team of the Jammu and Kashmir administration were called to carry out rescue-cum-search operations.

Visuals from the aftermath of the avalanche show tourists stuck in knee-deep snow and a civilian helicopter hovering over the area. A snowmobile, which is often used by tourists for adventure sports in Gulmarg, is stuck in the snow which has covered the slope after the avalanche.

All participants of the Khelo India Games are reportedly safe. Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Kumar Sinha inaugurated the fourth Khelo India Winter Games yesterday in Gulmarg. 

The Russian Embassy in India said they maintaining constant contact with the local authorities.

“The avalanche was triggered by heavy snowfall observed in the region since February 17. On February 21, a medium danger level avalanche warning was issued for Baramulla district, Jammu and Kashmir”, the embassy said.

Gulmarg, which witnessed a dry spell in the first few weeks of January, has seen massive snowfall since the beginning of February. The town, known for its landscapes and world-class skiing slopes, has become a hotspot for adventure seekers and tourists after the recent snowfall that ended over two months of dry spells.

The lack of snow during peak winter left the people connected with tourism disappointed as winter sports lovers waited eagerly to see the locale turned white which finally happened towards the end of January, bringing cheers on the faces of both the locals and the tourists.

Earlier this month, a massive avalanche struck the Sonamarg area on Srinagar-Leh Highway. The officials said the avalanche occurred near the workshop for Zojila tunnel construction in Sonamarg. However, there was no damage reported in the incident.

The authorities issued an avalanche warning for the higher reaches of Kashmir Valley following heavy snowfall in the first week of February.