A massive avalanche in a snow-struck Jammu and Kashmir has caused the Jawahar tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway to be closed.
The avalanche hit the tunnel to the north side, blocking both its tubes from the Qazigund side, causing the authorities to suspend traffic on the route even as rescue teams have been rushed to the spot to assist in clearing the snow.
The Jawahar tunnel, which opened in the 1950s, is just short of 3km long and is an essential enabler of connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir's summer and winter capitals. An all-weather alternative to it is being developed, while a train line between Banihal, which is to the south end of the Jawahar tunnel, provides connectivity to Srinagar as well as tourist hotspots like Gulmarg and Pahalgam, on its way to Baramullah.
Visuals of the Jawahar tunnel accessed by Republic TV show vast quantities of snow blocking the portal.
The road route between Jammu and Srinagar is susceptible to the elements at various points through the year, especially during the winter and rainy seasons. Rockslides frequently block the highway necessitating the mobilisation of earth-movers to clear paths.
On Friday, an avalanche had hit a truck passing through Khardung La in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh district. There were ten labourers in the truck, of which seven bodies have been recovered by the Indian Army and other rescue authorities under treacherous and sub-zero conditions.