Kashmir avalanches: Several dead in Neelum Valley


At least 11 people have been killed and 10 others are missing, many of them soldiers, after they were hit by avalanches in the disputed Kashmir region on Friday, officials say.

The avalanches struck in the mountainous Neelum Valley, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The soldiers were searching for colleagues hit by the first avalanche when they were struck by a second fall.

Officials said the search was hampered by bad weather and harsh terrain.

The party of rescuers had discovered two bodies when the second avalanche struck in Dana Tajian, 80 miles (130km) from Pakistan-administered Kashmir's main town of Muzaffarabad, killing at least nine more.

The avalanches struck close to the Pakistani side of the Line of Control, the disputed de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the Himalayan area, which both claim in its entirety.

The two sides have thousands of troops stationed in the region, where a ceasefire has been in place since 2003.

Officials said that heavy snow may have triggered the avalanches, which are common in the area.

In April, 140 Pakistani soldiers were buried when a huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base high in the mountains. All have since been declared dead, although some of the bodies still remain buried in the snow.

In February, at least 16 Indian soldiers on duty in the mountains of Kashmir were killed when two avalanches swept through their army camps.

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