Hundreds trapped, killed by avalanche

The Associated Press

JAMMU, India Five-hundred motorists were stranded in a tunnel for a fourth night Thursday by a snowslide that swept cars and buses off a Himalayan Mountain road, killing at least 125 people.

Heavy snow prevented rescue teams from searching for hundreds more people missing after Monday's avalanche on the main mountain highway linking Jammu-Kashmir with the rest of India.

Indian air force helicopters flew 400 survivors to safety on Wednesday and Thursday.

Information from the site has been sketchy because of poor communications.

Initially, police and state officials said 1,000 people were trapped when the avalanche blocked the entrance and exit to the Jawahar tunnel in northern Jammu-Kashmir state.

But Thursday, police said they made contact with rescue workers and learned there were about 500 motorists inside the tunnel and that they were not trapped but had taken shelter there after the avalanche.

Police said the motorists in the tunnel were safe and that soldiers and villagers had brought them food and blankets.

A total of 125 bodies were recovered from buses knocked by the snow into a deep gorge three miles from the tunnel.

Officials have not been able to account for hundreds of people believed to have been inside other vehicles and fear many of them have been swept away by the avalanche.

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