Avalanche hits Kinnaur hamlet, seven rescued

Shimla, Feb 6 (IANS) Following three days of heavy snowfall, an avalanche hit a remote hamlet in the tribal Kinnaur district Wednesday, burying two houses. At least seven people, who were trapped under the avalanche, were later extricated by rescue teams, an official said.

Police and the locals laboured for over eight hours in a rescue operation and extricated all seven people, including four children, from the rubble. They were given first aid for injuries, Deputy Commissioner J.M. Pathania told IANS by phone.

The avalanche struck the remote hamlet of Kafnu in Bhaba Valley, about 70 km from district headquarters Rekong Peo, around 7 a.m., Pathania said.

The hamlet witnessed more than four feet of snow.

Officials said six families had vacated their houses sensing threat of the calamity in Kafnu.

The higher reaches in the state have been witnessing heavy snowfall for the past three days.

The government has advised people to stay indoors in Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts, and Pangi and Bharmour areas of Chamba district. They have also been asked not to go out in avalanche-prone areas. Schools in these areas have been closed as a precautionary measure.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Wednesday reviewed the situation after three days of snow and rain across the state.

He said the life in the state, particularly in the tribal areas and higher reaches, has been severely hit.

The chief minister also directed the authorities to ensure supply of electricity, water and other essential commodities to the people and clear roads that have been blocked by heavy snowfall.

The Met Office has forecast that western disturbance - storm systems originating in the Mediterranean Sea and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region - will remain active over the state and higher areas are likely to experience heavy snow till Thursday.