4/07/2016

Heavy Rains Kill


The death toll after heavy rains in Pakistan's northwest and in Kashmir rose to 71 Tuesday, officials said, as rescuers sought to evacuate dozens of people still trapped by landslides.

Ten more people were found dead in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the weekend downpour triggered landslides and collapsed the roofs of dozens of houses.

"The number known to have died in rains so far in the northwest has now risen to 61 with over 350 houses damaged all over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," a spokesman for the local disaster management authority said in a statement.

At least 30 people were still stranded following a heavy landslide in the area of Khoistan, he said.

While in Pakistani-held Kashmir, dozens of local tourists remained marooned in the picturesque Neelum Valley as authorities attempted to evacuate them, a local official there told the media covering the story.

The valley is connected from Muzaffarabad by Neelam road, which leads up to Kel. 

The road condition from Muzaffarabad to Athmuqam is very good and suitable for any kind of transport. From Keran to Kel road condition is not well and not suitable for low floor vehicles. 

In winters road onward Keran block due to heavy snowfall and it is very difficult to reach upper parts of the valley.

Vans serve is only Muzaffarabad to Athmuqam after every 30 minutes. Buses run daily between Muzaffarabad and Kel in good weather. 

Jeeps and horses are available to reach remote areas of the valley.

At least 45 people have died in northwestern Pakistan as torrential rains triggered flash floods, local officials said, and bad weather is hampering further search and rescue efforts.

Officials told the Australian Broadcasting Company that rescue workers had not been able to reach three affected districts in the far-flung mountainous north of the province.

"Bad weather is the main reason, we are yet unable to send helicopters to these areas," an official said.

This same official told ABC there have been reports that at least 180 houses had been destroyed in those areas.

"We need to get bodies and the injured out from under the rubble and provide food and tents to the survivors," he said, adding that four truckloads of supplies had been sent to affected districts.

At least 34 people have been admitted to hospitals with injuries, he said.

Sky News reports that a bridge connecting the villages of Toormang and Shalfalam over the Panjkora River has been partially swept away by the heavy flooding.

Flash floods are commonly triggered during South Asia's summer monsoon season. Pre-monsoon rains like the current downpour frequently cause damage in Pakistan — particularly in rural villages with minimal infrastructure.

Residents of scores of villages close to rivers were given warnings to vacate and leave for safer places, Rehman said.

"We're left on our own. Nobody from the government is coming to help us," said Habib Khan, a resident of the northern Swat valley, talking to a local TV news channel.

The channel showed damaged houses and submerged streets in the valley and other parts of the northwestern province.

Poorly built homes across Pakistan, particularly in rural areas, are susceptible to collapse during the annual spring rains, which are often heavy.

Severe weather in recent years has killed hundreds and destroyed huge tracts of prime farmland.

During the rainy season last summer, torrential downpours and flooding killed 81 people and affected almost 300,000 people across the country.
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