Published On: Thu, Jan 16th, 2020
Published in Category: District News

PM Imran Khan visits injured in AJK as death toll from extreme cold weather rises

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MUZAFFARABAD/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s (AJK) capital Muzaffarabad on Wednesday, a day after the region witnessed extreme weather conditions resulting in the deaths of at least 76 individuals.

PM Imran Khan was accompanied by Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur and other officials. President AJK Sardar Muhammad Masood Khan, PM AJK Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan, Speaker AJK Legislative Assembly Shah Ghulam Qadir and other officials received PM Imran Khan upon arrival in Muzaffarabad.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier received a briefing from the chief secretary of AJK regarding the damages incurred due to snowfall and avalanches in the region as well as the relief efforts undertaken.

The prime minister also visited the injured at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Muzaffarabad.

The death toll in avalanches, landslides and other rain-related incidents during the current spell of a westerly wave weather system across the country has surged to over 100, with most of the cases being reported from AJK.

Officials had said the figure could further go up as some areas in the Neelum Valley were still inaccessible due to heavy snowfall, while weather pundits forecast another spell of snowfall beginning on Friday.

Meanwhile five more bodies were recovered from the Neelum Valley in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday as the death toll from an avalanche that had struck a day earlier rose to 73.

According to the State Disaster Management Authority, 22 shops and more than a hundred houses were struck as a result of the avalanche, with at least 91 houses completely destroyed and 101 partially damaged. The cold snap that caused the avalanche is likely to continue today.

Avalanches, flooding and extreme weather conditions have claimed more than 130 lives across Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent days, officials said on Tuesday as authorities struggled to reach people stranded by heavy snowfall.

“The severe snowfalls and landslides in Azad Kashmir have caused misery and deaths,” tweeted Prime Minister Imran Khan late on Tuesday. “I have asked the NDMA, the military and all our federal ministers to immediately provide all humanitarian assistance to affected people,” he added.

Meanwhile Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said Prime Minister is taking prompt notice of the mishap of snow-slide and issued directives to the authorities concerned to take relief and rescue measures at the earliest. She said the Prime Minister has directed the concerned institutions to provide full assistance to the affectess and the vulnerable citizens.

In a tweet on Wednesday, she said Azad Kashmir government is exercising all-out resources and capabilities in collaboration with the concerned departments to help the affected families and citizens. She said we are with our fellow citizens in this hour of trial.

The Special Assistant said the Prime Minister also directed to shift the affected people to safe places and provide best medical facilities to those injured in the incident.

To the southeast, in Balochistan, at least 31 people have been killed in separate weather-related incidents. “Most of those who died were women and children,” said Mohammad Younus, an official with the provincial disaster management authority.