At least three people died and 18 went missing in two avalanches in an area of Kashmir under Pakistani control, officials cited by local media said Saturday.

The missing persons were taken by surprise by the second snowslide while searching for the victims of the first one, which occurred on Friday and in which three people died.

They added that the missing persons are 10 civilians and eight soldiers, and blamed the avalanches on the bad weather prevailing in the area.

The accidents occurred at an altitute of more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) near the border between the part of Kashmir under Pakistani control and that under Indian jurisdiction.

Both India and Pakistan have large military contingents deployed in the region, whose sovereignty has been a bone of contention since the two countries became independent in 1947 following the partition of the Indian subcontinent by Britain, the former colonial power.

Snowslides are frequent in the region, considered the highest battlefield in the world after being the scene of periodic armed conflicts between the two opposing forces.

At least 140 Pakistani soldiers were killed by an avalanche last April on the Siachen Glacier, also in a Pakistan-controlled area of Kashmir. EFE