Skiers ventured into treacherous avalanche prone area despite advance warning: Govt

Minister for Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation & Reconstruction Javaid Mustafa Mir, on Friday made a statement in the House regarding the Avalanche incident that occurred at Gulmarg wherein one Swedish skier namely Daniel died and another namely Benjamin was injured.

The Minister informed the House that a Skier namely Daniel, age 25 years, from Stockholm, Sweden came under the avalanche at around 1.30 pm on Thursday near the Hapath Khud (gorge) outside Gulmarg Ski area. Immediately after the incident, the Ski Patrol team arrived at the site with the aid of snowmobiles, he said adding that the Ski Patrol team moved out the skier who was unconscious and shifted him to ski patrol headquarters where doctors evaluated the body and declared him brought dead.

The body was later on shifted to Tangmarg and transferred to Srinagar police control room where from it will be flown back to his home country, the Minister informed.

“As per reports the skier had ignored the advisory and ventured into the outbound ski area where he was caught in an avalanche along with another skier namely Benjamin Absers, who survived the avalanche. The skiers were informed not to exit ski area but it appears that they ignored the warning and the deceased was carried over a frozen waterfall estimated 30 feet in height”, the Minister said.

Javaid said the department through its Snow Safety Officer, Brian Newman stationed at Gulmarg had already issued Avalanche Advisory for skiers on Wednesday evening and warned that even a single skier can trigger avalanches.

He further informed that the department has set up multiple points of information at Gulmarg Gondola through the internet and though ski-petrol team to aware skiers about the advisory.

“It remains the endeavor of the department to have adequate safety arrangements in place for which Brian Newman was hired as snow safety officer for the current ski season. Brian is assisted by a team of 16 ski patrollers to carry out the rescue and also trigger avalanches within the inbound ski area to render the slopes safe,” the Minister said.

He further informed that the accident occurred in the back-country ski area on the Affarwath mountain which can be accessed by professional skiers only. Domestic tourists do not venture into this remote territory, he added.

He said the Government will enquire into the lapses and circumstances under which the authorities allowed them to venture into the avalanche-prone area despite advance warning.

The Minister expressed grief and sorrow over the tragic death of the Swedish skier and extended heartfelt condolences to his family on behalf of the State Government.

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