Snowfall wreak havoc in mountainous areas
CHITRAL/MURREE/QUETTA: Heavy snowfall in mountainous areas of the country has been playing havoc as many roads are closed and thousands of vehicles are stranded with tourists shivering in severe cold and no food.
At least 14 people, including six children, were killed in an avalanche in Chitral’s Shershal area on Sunday. Chitral Scouts Commandant Col Nizamuddin Shah said the bodies of 14 had been recovered from the debris. At least 25 houses have been buried and 5 houses have been completely destroyed, he said. He feared the number of casualties could rise as the rescue teams are busy to clear the area. It is unclear as yet, how many people have been affected by the avalanche.
Chitral district nazim Maghfirat Shah said that due to heavy snowfall in the area over the past two days several families had been shifted to safer locations. However, he added, some families had remained in the locality affected by the avalanche today.
Eleven people were rescued and evacuated. Efforts are underway to take the injured to hospital but roads are blocked due to heavy snow, rescue sources said.
Army personnel were headed to the unfortunate site to commence relief activities and provide helicopter for rescue services. For now, residents of the village were attempting rescue work on their own, according to rescue sources.
The situation is even grave in Gilgit-Baltistan where heavy snowfall has blocked most of the roads and people are facing acute shortage of food items and medicines. Locals said they are unable to take the sick people to hospitals due to roads closure.
In Skardu, between two to seven feet of snow fall has been reported in the last two days.
There has also been heavy snowfall in Changla Gali and higher areas of Murree where reports said hundreds of vehicles are stranded since Saturday afternoon. The stranded people include students of universities who had gone on picnic trip and are without food and their buses are unable to move since 4 PM on Saturday. Similarly tourists’ cars are also stuck and unable to proceed from Galiyat to Murree or Abbotabad.
In Balochistan, the situation is no different where different parts of the province received heavy snowfall affecting the normal life.
The authorities have been struggling with heavy machinery to clear the snow covered roads.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in avalanche in Chitral
The Prime Minister has directed all relevant Federal and Provincial authorities to reach the site immediately and undertake rescue and relief work.
He has also directed National Disaster Management Authority to coordinate the rescue efforts and arrange for necessary medical care, food and shelter for the affectees.