Sixteen Armymen,including a Junior Commissioned Officer,were killed after two camps in Gurez and Sonmarg in the Valley were swept away by massive avalanches late on Wednesday night.
Three Army jawans who are believed to be trapped under a sentry post at Gurez are still missing and a search operation is on to trace them.
For the past three days,Gurez and Sonmarg areas of the Valley have been witnessing heavy rain and snowfall and the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) had issued avalanche warnings in both Gurez and Sonmarg areas along with other parts of the Valley.
The Army said that late Wednesday night the avalanches struck at Dawar Manjkote village in Gurez where Armys 109 Brigade headquarters is located.
The avalanches first swept the engineering unit of the infantry brigade and then caused heavy damages to 17 Army barracks and 25 vehicles.
Dozens of soldiers were buried under the snow. However,13 soldiers were rescued by soldiers from neighbouring Army camps and the police.
Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar confirmed the 13 deaths in the Dawar area and said three personnel were still missing. This particular area is not normally avalanche-prone and is cut off from the rest of the Valley in winter months, he said.
Rescue operations are being hindered by heavy snow and bad weather. The other three jawans were at a sentry post which is under 18 feet of snow. A specialised team from High Altitude Warfare School has reached the spot.
He said another avalanche hit at an Army Post in Sonmarg in Ganderbal district on Wednesday evening. A Junior Commissioned Officer and two jawans were killed.
Nine personnel were rescued while two civil porters were also injured in the incident, he said.
Coordinator,Disaster Management Cell,Kashmir,Amir Ali said a medium danger avalanche warning had been issued on Wednesday for Keran,Machil,Chowkibal,Tangdhar,Gurez and Sonmarg.
The warning has again been extended for the next 24 hours,for higher reaches of Gulmarg,Naugam,Kaiyan,Keran,Chowkibal,Tangdhar,Gurez and Sonmarg. People staying in these snow bound areas above 8,000 feet have been advised not to venture out due to steep avalanche-prone slopes.
The 16 lives lost
Dawar Gurez: Subedar Desh Raj,Naib Subedar R S Poonia,Naib Subedar S N Yadav,Naib Subedar U B Hirve,Havaldar Om Prakash Baitha,Sepoy Vinay Kumar Bharati,Craftsman Ankit Kumar,Craftsman S Muni Samy,Sepoy Dinesh Kumar,Sepoy Sagar Biswas,Sepoy Probir Sarkar,Craftsman Shyju J P and Craftsman Nawle Manoj
Sonmarg: Naib Subedar (JCO) Mahadev Gain,Sepoy Puvaneswaran M and Rifleman Amit Sharma