QUETTA/ISLAMABAD – Various parts of the country including Northern Areas, Balochistan and Fata received heavy snowfall on Saturday and Sunday dropping the mercury level and multiplying the miseries of the people in these areas.

The Quetta valley and northern and central parts of Balochistan received more snow and rains with icy Siberian winds on Sunday, paralysing routine life in these areas. The Quetta-Chaman Highway which was blocked on Saturday could not be opened for traffic on second consecutive day.

Life in Quetta remained completely disrupted as intermittent snowfall and icy winds continued lashing the valley throughout the day forcing the people to stay at homes.

Most of the markets and shops of the city remained closed while streets presented a deserted look. The mountains of Quetta valley completely blanketed with heavy snowfall presenting an eye-catching view. People were seen rushing towards picnic points, particularly to Hanna Lake and Dasht’s snow covered areas to enjoy the weather.

The traffic between Quetta-Chaman could not be restored because of heavy snowfall at Khojak Pass between Quetta and Chaman. Officials said though work had been started to clear the highway at Khojak Pass but the more snowfall created difficulties for the workers. Due to closure of highway hundreds of vehicles have been trapped on both sides of highway.

The suspension of gas and low pressure in Quetta and some other towns of the province made it harder to cope with extreme temperature. Similarly, the snowfall also caused suspension of electricity supply in several parts of the province.

The other towns which received snowfall included Kalat, Khuzdar Mastung, Surab, Mangochar, Ziarat, Pishin, Tooba Achakzai, Tooba Kakari, Mehtanzai, Khanozai, Qilla Abdullah, Qilla Saifullah and Muslim Bagh. Ziarat received more snow, suspending traffic. The southern parts of Balochistan, including Nushki, Dalbandin, Panjgour, Pasni, Jiwani, Mashkay and Gwadar received rains that generated flash floods.

According to agricultural experts the timely snowfall and rains would not only impact positively on crops but it would also improve ground water-level which had been experiencing decline for the last couple of decades.

Northern parts of the country were in the grip of severe cold while hilly areas including Murree and Galiyat received heavy snowfall on Saturday-Sunday night and the temperature fell to minus. According to reports thousands of tourists thronged Murree and surrounding areas to enjoy the snowfall. Slippery roads have, however, badly affected the traffic system and there is almost no place for parking in Murree due to rush of tourists as majority of them travelled in their own cars.

The Mall in Murree was flooded with tourists and hotels and restaurants were doing roaring business. The hotels were booked to capacity.

Temperature in Islamabad fell to minus one degree Celsius and of Murree to minus two degrees Celsius. In Murree snowfall continued intermittently. Traffic chaos was seen on the Murree Expressway at several places. Traffic wardens were increased to control traffic at different places.

The Met Office has predicted more snowfall in Murree and adjoining areas today (Monday).

In the tribal belt including Parachinar, Wana, Orakzai Agency, Tirah Valley and on mountains of North Waziristan Agency, snowfall continued paralysing the normal life activities and people were facing acute shortage of daily use items. Sources said that heavy snowfall was reported in Parachinar bazaar which was closed due to severe cold. Locals living in remote areas remained cut off from Parachinar bazaar and complained about acute shortage of various food items.

Orakzai Agency also received snowfall, disrupting normal activities in the area and roads leading to the tribal region were also closed, besides decreasing temperature in the area.

Official sources said that effort were afoot to clear the roads which were blocked by snowfall to restore linkage of the tribal regions with the adjoining areas. Snowfall was also reported in Tirah Valley, Samana area of Hangu and North and South Waziristan Agencies’ mountainous areas. Pir Ghar Mountain, the highest mountain in South Waziristan Agency, and the adjacent peaks received heavy snowfall.