From happy sunshine to gloomy sunset in Gulmarg

Gulmarg, Feb 22:  The Gulmarg ski resort in north Kashmir witnessed a stark transformation from a day of joyous celebration to a gloomy sunset as a massive avalanche struck the Affarwat area, turning the vibrant slopes into a scene of tragedy.

The day commenced with the magnificent charm of Gulmarg, as the activities of the 4th edition of the Khelo India Winter Games unfolded amidst a backdrop of happy sunshine.

The participants donning in colourful attires showcased their skiing prowess in various events, creating an atmosphere of festivity.

Athletes from different states, as well as representatives from ITBP and the Indian Army, were also rewarded for their exceptional performances with gold, silver, and bronze medals.

The air resonated with the enthusiasm of athletes sliding down the snow-covered slopes, fulfilling their dreams on the renowned ski resort.

“We had worked hard for this competition. It was a dream come true for me to ski on the slopes of Gulmarg,” Bhavani Thekkada from Karnataka told Greater Kashmir.

She was elated after bagging the first position in the 5-km Nordic skiing and 1.5-km skiing.

Media personnel, stationed at Gulmarg to capture the joyous moments, were engaged in interviewing the triumphant athletes, making them the stars of the event.

Officials from the civil administration and J&K Sports Council members were actively involved, ensuring the smooth progress of the Winter Games.

The first half was full of hustle and bustle with athletes and organisers occupied with celebrating individual success.

However, the jubilation took a devastating turn just an hour later, when news of a massive avalanche in the Affarwat area spread like wildfire.

The tranquil slopes transformed into a chaotic rescue operation as seven foreign skiers were reported missing.

A combined effort launched by the local rescuers, civil administration, J&K Police, and Army swiftly launched rescue operations.

The Khelo India activities were temporarily halted, with the focus shifted entirely to the rescue mission.

Local rescuers, including SDRF and HAWS teams, along with J&K Police, tirelessly worked to retrieve the missing skiers.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Minga Sherpa remained stationed at Gulmarg till the body of the deceased skier was retrieved while other missing skiers were rescued properly.

As hours passed, it was confirmed that a female foreign skier lost her life, but the remaining missing foreign skiers were successfully rescued, some with injuries.

Snow cutter machines, snow scooters, and helicopter services were pressed into action to facilitate the rescue and recovery efforts.

Amidst the chaos, rumours circulated about additional missing individuals, heightening the tension.

The HAWS team confirmed the end of the rescue operation.

Meanwhile, officials from the J&K Sports Council said that all the athletes and skiers participating in the 4th Khelo India National Snow Sports Event in Gulmarg were safe.


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