Russian skier dies in Gulmarg avalanche; 6 other rescued

Baramulla, Feb 22: A female Russian skier died while six others including a local guide were rescued after a massive avalanche hit the upper reaches of Gulmarg ski resort in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Thursday, Police said.

The skier has been identified as Anton of Russia.

Another injured has been shifted to a Srinagar hospital for specialised treatment.

An official said that the deceased skier was part of seven members of a Russian skiing group, that along with a local guide ventured into the backcountry D-4 zone which is a red zone area and came under a huge mass of snow, triggered due to an avalanche.

“Soon after the incident, a massive rescue operation was launched along with the rescue teams of the Department of Tourism and the Army. Besides, helicopters were deployed for search and rescue operations. During the rescue operation, a skier was found dead while six others were rescued safely,” he said.

Assistant Director Tourism, Javid-ur-Rehman said that the deceased Russian skier’s body had been shifted to a hospital for medico-legal procedure while the rescued skiers were being taken care of.

“The body of the deceased skier will be handed over to the Russian embassy,” he said.

Officials said that the incident happened despite the Snow Safety Officer’s instructions to all the skiers warning them about the danger of entering into the backcountry zone.

They said that some of them, to have more adventure, enter the dangerous zone, which is an avalanche-prone area.

An official of the Department of Tourism in Gulmarg said that the skiers were routinely advised to ski on the groomed tracks.

“Besides, there are patrol teams and a snow safety officer who continuously caution the skiers of the danger of entering into the backcountry zone,” he said.

In 2023, two Polish skiers died while 19 others including two guides were rescued after a massive avalanche hit the upper reaches of the Gulmarg ski resort.

In 2018, a Swedish skier identified as Daniel Akesson lost his life when an avalanche in the same area hit him and his four countrymen.

The same year, a Russian skier died while he along with his four friends came under a huge avalanche.

Meanwhile, an official spokesman in a statement issued here said that a collaborative effort between the Gulmarg Ski Patrol of Tourism Department, J&K, and J&K Police resulted in the successful rescue of a group comprising the six Russian skiers and a local guide following an avalanche at the higher reaches of Gulmarg, known as Army Ridge.

“Despite the valiant efforts of the rescue team, one Russian skier tragically lost his life due to the avalanche. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the deceased during this difficult time,” the official spokesman said.

He said that the avalanche site was located far from the Kongdoori area, where the 4th Khelo India Winter Games are currently underway.

“The ongoing sporting events remain unaffected by the incident,” the spokesman said. “The rescued individuals are currently under the care of the district administration, receiving basic medical treatment. A skier sustained minor injuries but is in stable condition and is receiving treatment at a local hospital.”

The official spokesman said that the response and coordinated efforts of the rescue team, ski patrol, and Police played a vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of those affected by this incident.

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