LAHORE/QUETTA - A very cold wave engulfed most parts of Pakistan as rain-thunderstorm and snowfall occurred in parts of the country yesterday.

Roads were blocked in Chitral, Gilgit Baltistan and other hilly areas in the north, including Kashmir, while emergency was declared in parts of Balochistan in the south after heavy snowfall there. Rain with thunder was reported in plains of Punjab and Sindh.

Met office forecast the cold wave would continue till Wednesday and rain-thunderstorm with snowfall over the hills is likely at scattered places in Islamabad, upper Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, north Balochistan, Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir in next 24 hours.

The ground contact of Quetta was reportedly cut-off with Ziarat, Qilla Saifullah, Zhob, Loralai, Chaman, Bolan and Kalat as heavy snowfall continued for the second day in different parts of the province, resulting in declaration of emergency by the authorities in whole of Balochistan.

Two feet of snow, which is falling in patches, has been recorded so far in some areas of Quetta and three feet on the mountains of Ziarat and Kalat. The town of Chaman near the Afghan border saw heavy snowfall. The Khojak Pass which connects Qila Abdullah with Chaman was blocked after more than one foot of snow.

Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Crisis Management Cell sent heavy machinery to clear the roads and notified emergency numbers 0819241133 and 0819202119 for public assistance.

In Quetta, many people were overjoyed and thronged to various tourist locations to enjoy the snowfall.

The hill station of Fort Munro in district Dera Ghazi Khan saw snowfall after more than eight years.

Rain and snowfall also occurred in Skardu, Gilgit, Swat, South Waziristan and other mountainous areas.

Roads were also blocked in Chitral and Gilgat Baltistan due to heavy snowfall and rain, ISPR said in a statement on Sunday, adding that the army and the Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were clearing the snow to restore traffic in the snow-laden areas in northern parts of the country as well as Balochistan.

Lowari Tunnel in Chitral and roads from Quetta to Karachi (NHW 25), Quetta to Sukkur (NHW 65) and Taftan to Quetta (NHW 40) were opened on late Saturday for vehicles to ply smoothly.

FC Balochistan has established Crisis Management Centers at Quetta, Sibi, Ziarat, Pishin, Loralai, Kallat, and Khuzdar while an Army Assistance Camp has been established at Panakot, Malakand Division for public assistance in coordination with local administrations.

The civil administration has issued advisory to the general public to avoid unnecessary travel.

In Sindh, heavy downpour lashed several cities including Sukkur, Jacobabad and Shikarpur. This caused power blackouts in several areas. Trains were delayed as passengers waited for hours braving the cold weather. The Sukkur Express departed from Karachi after a delay of more than seven hours.

The skies were clear in Karachi on Sunday but the cold wave persists in the city, which received intermittent rain on Saturday.

Rain also lashed parts of Punjab, including capital Lahore which witnessed a power breakdown in the evening as reportedly 70 electricity feeders got tripped. Islamabad also recieved its share of  snow and rain.