Heavy snowfall, rain claim nearly 84 lives in Pakistan

Heavy snowfall, rain claim nearly 84 lives in Pakistan

People remove debris of a collapsed house following heavy snowfall that triggered an avalanche in Neelum Valley, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on January 14, 2020. AFP

Islamabad, January 14 

Avalanches and landslides triggered by heavy snowfall and incessant rain across Pakistan have left over 80 people, including women and children, dead, and destroyed many houses, officials said on Tuesday.

Harsh weather conditions continue across Pakistan over the last three days, bringing normal life to a halt as road transport and communication remain severely affected.

About 84 people have died across the country after a severe cold wave brought life to a standstill in numerous areas, officials said on Tuesday.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said it was bracing for more human and material losses due to inclement weather conditions.

At least 57 people were killed and many others reported missing after avalanches hit as many as 15 villages of Neelum valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the last 24 hours, Radio Pakistan reported.

Around 45 houses were fully destroyed.

Rescue teams shifted 42 injured to various hospitals but they officials faced hurdles in reaching the affected people due to blocked roads.

Liaquat Shahwani of Balochistan government said 20 people had lost their lives in the province. 

“We are doing everything we can within the resources available to us,” Shawani said.

Balochistan was the first to suffer human losses on Sunday due to the extreme weather conditions when a westerly weather system entered the province in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Hundreds of passengers, including women and children, were stuck in harsh weather on Monday as a massive snowstorm wreaked havoc in different parts of Balochistan.

In Punjab, at least seven people were killed due to collapsing roofs and other rain-related accidents, officials said.

Relief, disaster and civil defence secretary Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qadri told Dawn newspaper that heavy snowfall and rains have blocked several roads in high altitude areas.

Due to heavy snowfall on Khojak Top, the communication lines between Ziarat and Quetta have been severely affected. The Quetta-Chaman highway was also closed for traffic, he said.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Karakoram highway was closed due to landsliding in the Pattan area of Lower Kohistan, while Chitral district was cut-off from the rest of the province due to heavy snowfall, he said.

Upper parts of the province — Malakand and Hazara divisions — received heavy snowfall, leading to the closure of main roads. Six people were injured and four houses collapsed in the rain-related incidents across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the officials said.

Heavy rain has caused flooding in low-lying areas of Sialkot, Gujrat and some other cities in the largest province of Punjab, the report said. — PTI

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