PESHAWAR - Rain and heavy snowfall wreaked havoc in Chitral when an avalanche hit a small village, Sher Sal, in the wee hours of Sunday resulting in death of at least 14 persons. Three others were also reported injured in the incident.

Another avalanche in Chitral killed a soldier and injured several others.

The residents of the area said that the avalanche hit at least 20 houses out of which five were completely flattened.

They said that nine bodies had been recovered from the debris, while search for others was underway.

Six children, six women and two men are among the dead, a Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) official Taimur Ali stated, while talking to The Nation.

According to Chitral District Nazim Maghfirat Shah till the time this report was filed no outside help could reach the area due to inclement weather conditions and heavy snow on the roads.

Locals have been trying to evacuate those trapped along with the local rescue officials.

“Eleven people have been rescued from the avalanche-hit village but the injured have not been treated as there’s no dispensary in the area and Chitral city is inaccessible,” Shah said.

The district nazim appealed to the prime minister to provide immediate help with the rescue effort and compensation for the victim families.

Shah said due to the landslides and blockade of roads, there were difficulties in shifting the injured to hospitals of different Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cities.

Sher Sal Union Council Nazim Muhammad Yaqoob said about 50 to 60 people were present in the affected houses at the time of the incident. He feared the death toll might increase.

Deputy Commissioner Shahab Hamid Yousafzai said that bodies of five women and four children had been recovered so far. He said a woman and two men had also been recovered in injured condition.

PDMA official Ali said they were facing difficulties to conduct rescue operation as most roads were closed due to heavy snowfall. A helicopter was sent by the PDMA, but it could not reach the affected area due to heavy rain and it was forced to land in Swat.

The official said rescue teams had been dispatched from Peshawar but they were stranded on their way and had yet to reach the affected area.

The Pakistan Metrological Department says four feet of snow has been recorded in different areas of Chitral during the last two days.

Flight operation at Chitral Airport has also been suspended due to heavy snowfall.

There is severe shortage of food and medicines as most part of the Dir-Chitral road has been disconnected from rest of the area due to landslide and heavy snowfall.

Ali further said the NDMA had agreed to provide a helicopter for rescue and relief operation and relief items consisting of 100 blankets, 50 quilts, 50 coal stoves, 30 packets of flour (20kg each) and plastic mats from the PDMA warehouse were being transported to the affected area subject to weather condition. In addition, four stretchers and medicines are also being dispatched, he added.

Earlier, a specialised search and rescue team consisting of Pakistan Army, Chitral Scouts, police and the local administration was deputed by the Chitral district administration to carry out joint search and rescue effort.

Talking to The Nation, Shah said another avalanche hit the same area on Sunday afternoon but fortunately no casualties were reported.

AFP adds: About 20 homes were destroyed by the avalanches and heavy rain.

A separate avalanche killed a soldier at a border checkpoint in Chitral district, a military statement said, while six more soldiers were injured.

The region’s electricity supply was also disrupted after the main transmission line was damaged.

In the Khyber tribal district on the Afghan border in the northwest, three infant girls were killed and two women injured when the roof of their house collapsed in heavy rain, said local administration official Niaz Mohammed.

 

 

 

15 die as avalanches hit Chitral