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SRINAGAR: Three cops have been rescued while seven are missing after an avalanche struck Kulgam district near the Jawahar Tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway on Thursday evening, police said. Among those rescued, one person has been identified as SPO Gulzar Ahmad, according to police. NDRF, SDRF, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police began the rescue operation in the morning after it was halted throughout night due to bad weather conditions.

Forces are taking help of men and machinery to reach the spot, police said. Ten people including six policemen, two fire service personnel and two prisoners went missing after the avalanche struck. The avalanche hit the north portal of Jawahar Tunnel on the Qazigund side. There were 18 people inside the police post, 8 of them managed to escape.

Kashmir valley has been witnessing heavy snowfall since Wednesday with Kulgam district in south Kashmir receiving maximum precipitation in the last 24 hours. Some places in the district have received as much as five feet snow, officials said. The Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment has issued an avalanche warning of varying degrees to 16 of the 22 districts in Jammu and Kashmir for the next 24 hours.

High danger avalanche warning has been issued to Anantnag, Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam, Ganderbal, Kulgam and Kupwara districts in the valley, while medium danger warning was issued to Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar, Udhampur and Leh districts. A low danger warning was issued for Kargil district.