Avalanche kills four soldiers in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) - An avalanche triggered by heavy snowfall killed four soldiers in the Ladakh region of Indian Kashmir near the border with China, the Indian army said on Saturday.

The soldiers were travelling in a convoy of three army vehicles which was struck by an avalanche on Friday, the army's northern command spokesman, S. D. Goswami told AFP.

The avalanche hit at 5,600m near Changla Pass, about 500m east of the region's main city of Srinagar.

"The bodies of three soldiers were recovered. Another is presumed to be dead and a search operation is on to find him," Goswami said.

Indian Kashmir has had incessant rainfall during the past week, flooding homes and triggering landslides in many areas, killing at least 20 people.

On Monday 16 people from two families were buried alive in a village in central Kashmir when a house they had gathered in was hit by a landslide.

Rescuers found the body of a 14-year-old boy on Saturday, five days after he was buried under the landslide along with 15 others whose bodies were extricated earlier.

The bodies of four other people were recovered by rescuers Saturday after they were buried under a similar landslide a day earlier in the Doda area, 250km south of Srinagar.

Hundreds of people fled their homes fearing floods after days of heavy rainfall just six months after devastating floods hit the region last year, killing around 300 people and destroying infrastructure and property worth estimated US$16 billion (S$22 billion).

The Indian Met office has forecast more rains in the coming week, but government appealed residents for calm, saying "the worst is over."