Minor landslide hits new track to Vaishno Devi shrine; helicopter service suspended

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Jammu, Jan 5: The new track to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine atop the Trikuta hills in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district was briefly closed on Wednesday following a minor landslide, while helicopter services remained suspended owing to inclement weather, officials said.

The landslide struck the new track at Panchi late in the afternoon amid heavy rains, prompting the authorities to suspend the battery car service, they said.

The officials said the movement of the pilgrims was diverted to the old track but it was later resumed after the debris of the landslide were cleared. However, the battery car service has been suspended till further orders as a precautionary measure, they added.

The officials said the helicopter service remained suspended for the day due to the bad weather.

Most parts of Kashmir and high-altitude areas of Jammu region, including the Jawahar Tunnel, recorded moderate snowfall, while the plains including Jammu city and Katra – the base camp for pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine – were lashed by intermittent rains since early Tuesday.

According to an advisory issued by the meteorological department, moderate to heavy rain or snow is most likely during January 5-8.

The officials said snowfall was also reported from the upper reaches of the Trikuta hills but there was no snowfall yet at the shrine, where the yatra was continuing smoothly.

The weather office said Katra recorded 84.2 mm of rainfall from January 3 (8.30 am) till January 5 (5.30 pm), which was the highest in Jammu region. Jammu city witnessed 48.3 mm of rainfall during the same period.

The officials said nearly 13,000 pilgrims visited the cave shrine till 6 pm on Wednesday.–(Agencies)