Extreme winter weather wreaks havoc across Pakistan, death toll jumps to 75

Extreme winter weather wreaks havoc across Pakistan, death toll jumps to 75

Severe winter weather affecting Pakistan over the past couple of days has claimed at least 75 lives and injured around 64 people, as of Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reports. The death toll is expected to increase as the powerful weather system continues to dump heavy rain and snow on parts of the country.

Downpours in Balochistan have killed 15 lives and injured 15, NDMA added. Furthermore, at least 55 fatalities and 12 others injured have been reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In Neelam valley solely, 19 have died while 10 people are still missing.

NDMA assured that search operations are ongoing to rescue the remaining victims after four people have been successfully rescued.

According to Liaquat Shahwani, spokesperson for Balochistan Government, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan is personally managing the relief work in the province. In addition, 20 more people have died in the area due to snow-related incidents.

"We are doing everything we can within the resources available to us," Shahwani added, saying that work is underway to restore access to remote areas in the province.

Key roads in Balochistan have been closed in the meantime, including Bolan, Khanozai, and Quetta-Chaman roads. The worst-affected road was at Lowari Approach Road in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which received a massive snowfall of 58.4 cm (23 inches). Lowai Top Road in Chitral was also blocked due to incessant heavy snowfall.

Relief, Disaster, and Civil Defense Secretary Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qari added that several routes had been blocked as well in high altitude areas.

Neelum Valley Road, Leepa Valley Road, Chikar-Bagh Road, Bagh-Lasdana Road, Mehmood Galli-Abbaspur Road and Tain Dhalkot Road were all closed for traffic.

The strong weather system hit Balochistan early Saturday morning, January 11, leading to avalanches, landslides, and other rain-related incidents that killed at least 21 by Monday, January 13.

11 of the fatalities were from Kashmir, seven from Punjab, and three from Balochistan.

NDMA's weekly outlook showed that mainly cold and dry weather conditions are expected in most parts of the country on Wednesday, January 15, with very cold conditions in the upper parts and north Balochistan. Furthermore, clouds with light rain and snowfall over hills are forecast in Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir.

Citizens, as well as tourists, were advised to avoid unnecessary travel in areas vulnerable to risky snow and landslide as the harsh weather condition continues to batter the country.

Featured image credit: Pakistan Red Crescent

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