Thu, Jan 16, 2020 - Page 5 News List

Himalayan severe weather kills many

HARSH FORECAST:At least 93 people died and 76 were injured across Pakistan, with several still missing, while 39 people were killed in Afghanistan, officials said

AFP, ISLAMABAD

People walk on a snow-covered road during fresh snowfall on the outskirts of Srinagar, India, yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Avalanches, flooding and harsh winter weather has killed more than 130 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past few days, leaving others stranded by heavy snowfall, officials said on Tuesday.

At least 93 people died and 76 were injured across Pakistan — with several still missing — while 39 more were killed in Afghanistan, officials in both countries said.

Forecasts suggest more harsh weather is on the way.

Pakistani Kashmir was the worst-hit area, with 62 people killed and 10 missing, the Pakistani National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.

In Kashmir’s Neelum Valley, heavy snowfall triggered several avalanches, including one that hit a village and killed at least 19 people.

“Ten people are still missing,” the authority said.

Authorities have shuttered schools, while several highways and roads were closed across the country’s northern mountainous areas, officials said.

“The severe snowfalls and landslides in AJK have caused misery & deaths,” tweeted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, referring to the part of Kashmir controlled by Islamabad.

To the southwest, in Balochistan Province, at least 31 people were killed in separate weather-related incidents.

“Most of those who died were women and children,” Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority Relief Officer Mohammad Younus said, adding that hundreds remained stranded.

Across the border in Afghanistan, more than 300 houses were either destroyed or partially damaged throughout the country, Afghan National Disaster Management Authority spokesman Ahmad Tamim Azimi said. “A cold snap, heavy snowfall and rains that started two weeks ago have caused damage.”

Most casualties were caused after roofs collapsed under a thick layer of snow, he added.

Hardest hit were Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul provinces in the south and Herat Province in the west.

In Herat, a family of seven died when their roof caved in, Azimi said.

Harsh winters often take a heavy toll in mountainous Afghanistan, and the country remains poor, despite billions of dollars in aid from the international community.

In Indian-administered Kashmir, avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall killed at least 12 people, including six soldiers.

Army personnel and a paramilitary soldier died in separate avalanches along the border of India and Pakistan, officials said.

“Five army soldiers and a border security force officer were killed in the snow avalanches on the Line of Control,” Srinagar-based Indian Army spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

Separately, a top official from Kashmir’s civil administration said that six people were killed after their house was hit by a massive snow avalanche in the northern part of the valley that saw heavy snow over the past few days.

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