KHYBER AGENCY - At least 28 people, including women and children, were killed when a van carrying a wedding party was washed away by a flash flood in Sra Shega, Bazaar Zakhakhel, a remote area of tehsil Landi Kotal, Khyber Agency, administration officials and local sources said yesterday.

Landi Kotal political tehsildar Irshad Mohmand, while confirming the incident, said the ill-fated pickup, carrying the participants of a marriage procession of a local tribal youth, Mati Khan, son of Abad Khan, was on its way when it was washed away by a heavy flood while crossing a spillway.

According to locals, those washed away by the flash flood were 18 children, eight women and two men. Five persons, including the driver of the vehicle, were saved in wounded condition, they said.

On receiving the information, the administration officials rushed to the site and joined the relief activities. All the bodies were retrieved and shifted to their areas for burial, an official said.

It is to be mentioned here that the deceased belonged to Ziauddin tribe and were the residents of Bara. They had however, left their locality due to militancy and had taken refuge in the area of Zakha Khel.

Khyber Agency Political Agent Khalid Mehmood expressed deep grief over the tragic incident and condoled with the bereaved families. He also announced Rs 300,000 for the dead and Rs 100,000 for the injured.

AFP adds: “The rescue operation has been completed and the dead bodies of 26 people have been retrieved,” Rahimullah Mehsud, a local government official of the Khyber Agency affirmed.

Earlier, Mehsud had said the rescue workers and residents were facing difficulties as the area was remote and mountainous.

The tragic incident took place when a pickup truck, carrying a 29-member wedding party, was hit by a flash flood in a remote village in Khyber.

Three people who survived were taken to hospital. Hekmat Khan, another government official, confirmed the death toll and said that the child victims were aged up to nine years.

The heavy monsoon rains began earlier this month, badly affecting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and central Punjab. The two provinces were badly affected by floods also in the recent years that some scientists have linked to climate change.

INDUS RUNning IN LOW FLOOD

APP adds: The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) on Saturday said River Indus was flowing in low flood in Kalabagh-Chashma Reach while all other main rivers, including Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej were normal.

According to daily FFC report, Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs were at elevations of 1518.30 feet and 1232.70 feet respectively, which are 31.70 feet and 9.30 feet below their respective Maximum Conservation Levels of 1550.00 feet and 1242.00 feet.

According to Flood Forecasting Division (FFD), Friday’s trough of westerly wave over north of the country had moved southwards and lay over northern parts. Seasonal low still persisted over northwestern Balochistan while moist current from the Arabian Sea was penetrating into upper parts of the country up to 5,000 feet.

The Flood Forecasting Division forecast that scattered thunderstorm/rain with isolated heavy falls was expected over upper catchments of all major rivers including north and northeastern Punjab (Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala and Lahore Divisions) and DG Khan Division, besides, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Peshawar, Kohat and DI Khan Divisions) during the next 24-48 hours. Medium Flood in local nullahs, i.e. the tributaries of Rivers Chenab and Ravi including DG Khan hill torrents, besides, sharp peak of medium to high flood level in River Jhelum at Mangla (inflows) are expected during the next 24 hours.

All concerned authorities are advised to remain alert, watch the situation closely and take all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid loss of human lives and damage to private and public property.

Met office forecast same weather conditions in Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Hangu, Karak, DI Khan, Tank districts and areas of FATA. Light rain with thunder is also expected at isolated places of Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Meanwhile, light rains are expected in coastal areas of Sindh and Makran.