J&K highway closed, air traffic suspended due to fresh snowfall

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SRINAGAR/JAMMU: Fresh snowfall in Kashmir forced the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway today cutting off the Valley from the rest of the country.

Air traffic to and fro the Valley was also suspended. "The highway has been closed due to fresh snowfall at Banihal-Patnitop stretch which has rendered the road slippery," Ramban Superintendent of Police Anil Magotra said.

There is snowfall at Jawahir Tunnel, Banihal, Shatani Nallah, Ramso areas, Batote and Patnitop area, while heavy rains have lased Ramban section besides, there is a major landslide at Digdol area of the highway, he said.

The 294-km arterial road, the only road link between Kashmir and rest of the country, was earlier closed on January 15 due to heavy snowfall and reopened for one-way traffic on Tuesday evening to allow the stranded vehicles to reach the summer capital.

Due to the closure of the highway, over 2,970 vehicles are stranded at various places mostly at Ramban, Udhampur and Nagrota areas in Jammu district.

Men and machines of Border Road Organisations are working over time to clear snow from the highway.

"But the snow clearance operation is facing difficulty due to continuous snowfall," Magrotra said.

Snowfall began in most parts of the Valley last evening while in the summer capital of the state it started early this morning.

The air traffic has also been suspended due to snowfall which reduced the visibility at Srinagar International Airport.

Air traffic was restored on Tuesday after remaining suspended for two days. The airlines operated 40 flights on Tuesday and Wednesday to facilitate travel of stranded passengers and tourists in the Valley.