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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 18:28 GMT
Snow disrupts Kashmir aid effort
Earthquake survivors clear their tents of snow near Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Kashmir
Hundreds of thousands of quake survivors are still living in tents
Heavy rain and snowfall are badly hampering relief efforts in Kashmir, where three million people were left homeless by an earthquake in October.

Roads have been closed and helicopters grounded by bad weather and landslides. Survivors' tents have been flooded.

Authorities in Uri, Indian-administered Kashmir, say one person died and others were wounded when a house collapsed.

In northern Pakistani-administered Kashmir, bad weather has seen relief operations suspended since Saturday.

Winter rain showers have continued relentlessly in some areas, followed in mountainous districts by snow.

Meteorologists have warned the bad weather could go on for another five days.

'Everything wet'

Hundreds of thousands of quake survivors are living in tent camps across Kashmir. Many others are in makeshift tents or shacks next to their devastated homes.

"Everything is wet," Shakina, a weeping woman in a tent camp near Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Kashmir, told Reuters news agency.

"This is very difficult for me and my children. We can't survive in this tent."

Both big and small roads have been blocked in Pakistani Kashmir. Officials say Neelum and Jhelum valleys have borne the brunt of the bad weather, and most main roads have been closed.

The districts of Baramullah and Kupwara are among the worst-hit in Indian Kashmir after the Kashmir valley received heavy snow.

Supplies of electricity to all parts of the valley have been disrupted after the main transmission line importing power from India's national grid was cut off. The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has been closed.

People are worried that the closure of the highway will lead to a scarcity of essential goods and price hikes, says the BBC's Altaf Hussein in Srinagar.

On the other hand they also know that snowfall means there will be water to irrigate crops and generate power, he says.

Meanwhile, the ski resort of Gulmarg - some 50km (30 miles) from Kashmir's summer capital of Srinagar - was cut off, leaving some 300 tourists stranded, including about 100 foreigners. An official said it was hoped they would be able to leave on Tuesday.

December reprieve

The bad weather held off during December, allowing relief supplies to be distributed, and the UN, which is helping to co-ordinate the relief effort, says sufficient supplies are in place.

"In terms of overall relief, it's not the end of the world," UN logistics chief Natasha Hryckow was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

But charity workers say the bad weather increases the likelihood of illness among survivors and avalanches triggered by aftershocks - one of which killed 24 people in northern Pakistan last Friday.

The Pakistani military says the biggest challenge is reaching quake survivors high up in the mountains.






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