Published On: Wed, Jan 15th, 2020
Published in Category: Killing

Over 75 people killed as severe cold wave grips country

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MUZAFFARABAD/QUETTA: More than 75 people have died across the country after a severe cold wave brought life to a standstill in numerous areas.

At least 59 people were killed and several others were reported missing after avalanches were reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir over the last 24 hours, senior government officials said on Tuesday.

Two officials said many villagers were still stranded in the avalanche-hit areas of Neelum Valley following heavy rains that also triggered landslides. Many people were reported missing and feared dead as rescue efforts got underway, one of the officials said.

“49 bodies were removed from collapsed buildings in Muzaffarabad,” Ahmad Raza Qadri, the chief of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Authority said said. “Rescue operation is under way with the help of Pakistan Army,” Qadri said, adding that due to the severe weather conditions the rescue operations were hampered. He added the injured were shifted in Pakistan Army helicopters to nearby hospitals.

Meanwhile, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Muhamamd Farooq Haider Khan has directed the authorities concerned to start immediate rescue operation in the rains affected areas of the state.

He directed the SDMA to collaborate with the relevant departments and rush to the far-flung remote areas of the state to provide relief to the affected people at the earliest.

Raja Farooq Haider also issued directives to the administration to provide all possible assistance to the affected people stuck in their areas due to torrential rains and heavy snowfall. He said that 62 people were killed in rain related incidents in Neelum Valley and other districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

In Balochistan, 21 people were killed in rain and snowfall-related incidents across the province.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, 41 people have been injured while 35 houses have been destroyed in the cold snap that has taken over the country.

Meanwhile major thoroughfares in Balochistan, including Bolan Road, Khanozai Road and Quetta-Chaman Road have been closed for the time being, the statement said, adding that the most snowfall recorded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was at Lowari Approach Road at a whopping 23 inches.

The Met Office has also issued a warning highlighting the risk of closure of inter-city roads due to heavy snowfall and rains in the districts of Swat, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Murree, Galyat, Neelum, Bagh, Haveli, Rawalakot, Astore, Hunza and Skardu.

It has also warned that heavy rains may further trigger landslides and avalanches in Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Malakand and Hazara districts.

Key highways connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan were also blocked due to heavy snow, forcing officials to suspend transportation of essential goods into Afghanistan.