71 dead as severe cold grips Pakistan

snowfall-in-pakistan-administered-kashmir-file-photo

By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Representative

Islamabad: The death toll from snow and rain-related incidents jumped to 71 on Tuesday as severe cold weather spell continued across the country bringing life to a standstill. More deaths are feared as according to weather forecast the current cold spell will continue for another couple of days.

Most of the deaths were reported from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. More than a dozen casualties were also reported from Balochistan province.

According to officials of Disaster Management Authority, 49 bodies were recovered from collapsed buildings in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Rescue operation is still under way with the help of Pakistan Army, as due to the severe weather conditions the rescue operations were hampered.

Several people were injured in these incidents and were shifted in Pakistan Army helicopters to nearby hospitals.

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

Levies paramilitary officials said that more than 500 passengers were stranded in Kan Mehtarzai area of Killa Saifullah district, where temperatures dipped to as low as -14°C while heavy snowfall and strong winds almost buried cars on the main National Highway.

“Winds have blown snow from mountains and carried it on to the national highway leaving the passengers stranded,” the government official said.

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The MET Office has forecast cold and dry weather for most parts of Balochistan for the next 24 hours.

Emergency had been declared in seven districts of Balochistan, which were badly affected due to heavy rain and snowfall. More than 14 people have already reportedly lost their lives due to heavy snowfall as the latest spell of inclement weather hit different parts of the province.

According to reports, 23-inch snowfall was recorded in parts of Chitral district including Lowari Tunnel in Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw province.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall in Gilgit-Baltistan, country’s northern areas, has broken the 50-year record. An emergency has been declared in Hunza and Nagar after continued rain and snowfall for the last 36 hours paralyzing the life in the northern region.

Authorities have advised people to avoid travelling through mountainous routes owing to the threat of landslides. The snowfall has also greatly affected the electricity distribution system in Gilgit Baltistan coupling the hardship of locals.

Meanwhile, five persons including two women were buried alive and three others injured, in two separate incidents of snow avalanches in the snow-clad Neelam valley of the Pakistan-administered Kashmir during the last 24 hours, official sources said.

The temperature has also fallen to 5 degrees centigrade in Punjab and 10 to 12 degrees centigrade in Sindh province.

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