The heaviest snowfall in nearly two decades has brought life in Indian Kashmir to a virtual standstill, as the number of deaths from weather-related accidents is growing.

Local officials say at least 36 people were killed and some 40 others are missing in avalanches that hit the area in the past two days. India's army was placed on alert after more than three meters of snow accumulated in some areas.

Thousands of motorists are stranded on the key Srinagar-Jammu highway. Continuing snowfall is hampering efforts to clear the road and officials warn of more avalanches along the highway.

Road closures across the Himalayan region have caused a shortage of essential supplies. The main airport in Srinagar is closed, power supplies severed and phone services disrupted.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.