SRINAGAR: A massive avalanche hit the upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir’s ski resort Gulmarg on Wednesday, killing two Polish tourists and trapping 21 skiers who were rescued later, police said.
Three teams of 21 foreign nationals and two local guides were at the ski slopes in Hapatkhud Kangdori when the avalanche came rolling down around 12.30 pm, police officials said.
The bodies of the two Polish nationals were recovered and moved to hospital for medico-legal procedures. The other 19 people who were trapped in the snowy heights of Afarwat region, famous for its ski slopes and visited by hundreds of tourists every winter, were rescued by teams of the Baramulla district police.
They were taken to safe locations near Gulmarg.
Several people saw the tragedy unfold.
“We saw the dance of death before our eyes. A 20 ft wall of ice fell on the skiers and they got buried under it. It’s all about nature’s fury,” All India Congress Committee member Deepak Chinchore from Karnataka who happened to be at the spot said.
Officials said the cable car which ferries tourists up the 14,000 ft Afarwat mountain was used for the rescue operations.
“Avalanche hit the Afarwat peak #HapathKhud at famous ski resort in #Gulmarg. #Rescue operation has been launched by #Baramulla Police alongwith other agencies. Reports of some skiers being trapped are being corroborated. More details shall follow,” a spokesperson of the Baramulla district police said on Twitter soon after the incident.
Videos of the avalanche, showing people running for their lives, circulated widely on social media.