Tue, Apr 03, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Avalanche death toll in northern Pakistan hits 11

AGENCIES , ISLAMABAD

An avalanche swept through a village in northern Pakistan and 11 people were missing and feared dead a day after 26 people were killed in another avalanche, police said yesterday.

The avalanche struck Mongi village in the Chitral region of the Hindu Kush mountains on Sunday night after heavy rain fell across deep snow blanketing the mountains, said senior police officer Ijaz Ahmed.

"Several houses have been buried and 11 people are missing. God forbid, but there is very little chance of their survival," Ahmed said by telephone from Chitral, 280km north of Islamabad.

An avalanche killed at least 26 people in a remote village in the same area on Saturday night.

Rescue efforts were hampered by the remote location and a lack of heavy machinery to lift debris, Ahmed said.

Another avalanche hit Olas village on Sunday and 11 people were missing, but Ahmed had no information on their fate.

Heavy rains and snow have been lashing Chitral since late last week. In some areas, about 1.83m of snow has fallen over the past several days, Ahmed said. Many villages have been cut off for days by heavy snow and landslides.

Two military helicopters were expected to arrive in Chitral yesterday to bring in medicines, food and blankets for avalanche victims, as bad weather prevented flights to the remote area on Sunday, Ahmed said. The helicopters will also evacuate injured people.

Relief efforts were likely to be hampered by blocked roads and broken down telephone lines. The main communication link from the area is the police's radio network, Ahmed said on Sunday.

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