Avalanche kills Swedish skier in Indian Kashmir: Police

Kashmiri villagers and policemen carry the body of a Swedish skier who has been identified as 25-year-old Daniel Akesson inside a hospital in Tangmarg, near the tourist town of Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2018
0

Avalanche kills Swedish skier in Indian Kashmir: Police

KASHMIR REGION: A Swedish tourist was killed Thursday when an avalanche tore through a Himalayan resort in Indian Kashmir popular with skiers, police said.
The 25-year-old victim was skiing with a fellow Swede in Gulmarg, a hill resort in Indian-administered Kashmir frequented by families and winter adventurers alike, when the avalanche barrelled down the slopes.
Rescuers found one of them alive and “safe” in the snow but his fellow skier was killed in the deluge, said local police superintendent Imtiyaz Hussain.
Hussain said an avalanche warning had been sounded the day before by local authorities after heavy snowfall had blanketed the mountains in the western Himalayas.
The pair were believed to be experienced skiers exploring the uppermost reaches of Gulmarg reached by a high-altitude gondola, he said.
Nestled in the mountain range that encircles the Indian-controlled Kashmir Valley, Gulmarg is a stone’s throw from the highly-militarised disputed border with Pakistan.
The “Gulmarg Gondola” is one of the world’s highest cable cars, ferrying passengers to an altitude of 4,100 meters (13,500 feet) and depositing them at the top of a dizzying run that challenges even the most experienced skiers.
For the more adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities to veer off-piste and slice through pristine snows.
But it is not without risks. Last June, seven people including two children were killed when the cable car crashed to the ground.
Avalanches are also common, killing tourists and soldiers alike in the steep, remote mountains.
Last year, 20 people died in a series of avalanches across the northern reaches of the Himalayan territory. In 2010, a snowslide killed 17 Indian soldiers during a training exercise at a high-altitude military school.
At least 140 people, mostly soldiers, were killed when a single massive avalanche hit a Pakistani military camp in 2012 on the other side of the border.


Afghan vote enters second day after series of bloody attacks, claims of mismanagement

Updated 20 min 53 sec ago
0

Afghan vote enters second day after series of bloody attacks, claims of mismanagement

  • Election Commission said more than three million people out of 8.8 million managed to cast their vote on Saturday
  • On Sunday the Election Commission sent more ballot papers for 401 polling stations where people could not vote owing to attacks and irregularities

KABUL: Voting resumed for a second day on Sunday in Afghanistan where the process was marred by bloody attacks and claims of massive irregularities that deprived hundreds of thousands of people of votes for a new parliament.
The mismanagement claims have been seen as another sign of the government’s inefficiency in holding the ballot, which already has faced a delay of more than three years and comes six months ahead of the presidential vote.
The government said it added several thousand more forces to the 50,000 troops already deployed, to further protect some of the sites where polls could not be held on Saturday.
The Election Commission said more than three million people out of 8.8 million managed to cast their vote on Saturday and that on Sunday it had sent sufficient ballot papers and deployed officials to cover for 401 polling stations where people could not vote because of attacks and irregularities the previous day.
Ali Reza Rohani, a spokesman for the Electoral Complaints Commission, said in a news conference on Sunday that the irregularities that took place on Saturday would “damage the transparency” of the elections.
He said biometric devices, put in place to curb fraud, could not work in some stations, including Kabul, and various stations had not received the list of voters who had registered months ago for the ballot.
He said some stations opened an hour late.
The election is seen as key for Afghanistan’s political stability and legitimacy.
The government had already announced that polls could not take place in more than 2,000 voting stations because of security threats.
The Taliban staged scores of attacks on Saturday in a number of provinces including Kabul where at least 18 people died in two strikes. Unofficial estimates showed that over 70 civilians were killed and more than 300 wounded.
The casualties and irregularities were both unprecedented compared to election-related problems and violence that had happened in all of the previous rounds of elections held since the Taliban’s ouster.
Transparent Election Foundations of Afghanistan (TEFA), a polls watchdog, in its latest finding while citing the irregularities, said it could not operate fully to observe the process on Saturday because of security threats and because it was barred by the election commission and government from having access to election centers.
“It created many challenges for TEFA’s observers, for instance, 65 percent of our female observers left the polling centers because of security reasons, and unavailability of cellular connections in some of the provinces,” it said in a statement.
“In 29 percent of the polling centers, our observers were not allowed by IEC workers, security forces and armed men to observe the counting process.”