At least 50 dead, 20 missing amid avalanches in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir
UNTV News • January 14, 2020 • 515
Islamabad – At least 50 people were killed and 20 others remain missing after a series of avalanches hit several villages in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, officials said Tuesday.
In other parts of the country, 18 more have been killed due to heavy snowfall this winter season.
According to Saeed-Ur-Rehman Qureshi, the director of operations at the State Disaster Management Authority in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a series of avalanches hit various villages in the Neelum Valley on Monday afternoon after several days of snowfall.
“So far, 50 people have been killed,” he told EFE, adding that the authorities feared that 20 others were missing amid the snow.
Local authorities have launched a rescue operation involving the country’s military to search for the missing people, Qureshi said.
In recent days, at least three more people have died in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir because of heavy rains and snowfall.
In the southwestern province of Balochistan, at least 15 people have been killed and 11 others injured in the last three days by heavy rains and snowfall that has shattered roofs, knocked down walls and cut off roads, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.
On Monday, the provincial government declared state of emergency to deal with the situation.
The country’s meteorological department forecast continuous rain and snowfall over the next few days.
Every year, rainfall leads to significant human and property damage in South Asian countries, especially during the monsoon period between June and September.
One of the worst natural disasters in Pakistan’s history was the flooding in 2010 following an extraordinarily intense monsoon, which, combined with a massive summer thaw, left some 2,000 people dead and more than 20 million affected. EFE-EPA
The desert locusts attacking Pakistan’s Punjab Province have caused heavy damage to crops, bringing economic losses to local farmers.
In a village of Punjab’s Okara district, a large area of farmland has been devastated by swarming locusts. Many young plants of potatoes have their leaves eaten, with only the stems left.
Ali Adna and his family members have been trying to drive locusts away by knocking on basins and making noise. Adna said he saw the measure from social media. It’s effective but exhausting so he and his family members take turns on duty to do the job.
“Every morning the locusts come at around 08:00 and start to gnaw the crops. They won’t stop until about 17:00. And what we can do is just knocking on the basin. We are thinking every day about any new method that can drive the locusts away,” he said.
The locust plague has disturbed agricultural activities for farmers in the district.
“We just sowed the wheat two days ago. After hearing about the approaching locusts, people had to dig out the wheat. The crops for feeding cows have also been destroyed. We are very anxious,” said Waris Ali, a farmer.
According to Pakistan’s Agriculture Department, the desert locusts arriving in Okara have been reduced to about 12 percent of the original amount after being tackled by previous areas. However, their capacity to causing damage should still get attention.
Local people in Okara said the area has seen more locusts this year than in the past. Though the people have been dealing with the locusts by using a pesticide, they hope to get stronger and more professional supports.
Islamabad – A 12-year-old girl has survived 18 hours buried under rubble and snow in Pakistan after a neighbor’s house where she took refuge with her family was buried by an avalanche.
Two of the girl’s brothers died in the incident.
So far 104 people have been killed by the adverse weather conditions affecting the Asian country.
The girl’s mother, Shehnaz Bibi, told Efe on Thursday that she took refuge with her husband and four children in a neighbor’s house along with four other families on Monday afternoon as snowfall blanketed the town of Bakwali in Neelum Valley.
Bibi said there was no noise before the avalanche struck the house, burying all those inside.
The woman was rescued three hours later and told her four children were presumed dead.
But an hour later Aqib, 3, was rescued alive.
Her daughter Samina, 12, was discovered alive on Tuesday morning, 18 hours after the house was buried by the snow. She had a broken leg.
“It is a miracle that she is alive,” said Bibi. “She was awake the whole night and didn’t eat anything.
“She had been calling for help the whole night.”
The girl survived in a hole amid the wooden remains of the collapsed five-story house.
After being rescued, Samina was transferred to a hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.
“She has a fracture in her femur but she is stable now,” the deputy medical superintendent of the Combined Military Hospital, Nauman Manzoor, said.
The bodies of Bibi’s other two children were found later.
Her house, which the family fled believing it would collapse, survived the avalanche and is still standing.
“We regret why we chose to go to another house,” she said. “I’ve lost my two children just because of a wrong decision.”
Eighteen people were killed and 12 survived the avalanche.
In Kashmir, 77 people have been reported dead while 56 have been injured in a series of avalanches that buried valleys and villages on Monday, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority.
Elsewhere, 20 people died in Balochistan province on Monday, while 23 others were injured in the snowstorms, which brought down houses and blocked roads.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the death toll stood at seven, while five have died in Gilgit Baltistan.
The number of fatalities resulting from the bad weather reached 104, while 96 have been injured and 236 houses have been destroyed in one of Pakistan’s harshest winters in recent memory.
Rescue operations were ongoing in the affected areas, with food and tents being distributed by army helicopters and soldiers working to reopen roads blocked by snow and debris.
Pakistan witnesses significant human loss and material damage every year during the monsoon season, but not usually during the winter months. EFE-EPA
Grief, fear and anger have enveloped the town of Chunian in Pakistan’s eastern, Punjab province after the bodies of three missing children were found in a district which has seen numerous cases of child abuse and abductions in recent years.
Police said on Monday (September 23) they had made twenty arrests as they investigated the suspected murders and sexual assault of the boys.
The body of Muhammad Faizan had been found the previous week, a day after he went missing.
Faizan, 8, had failed to return home with his brother when the two went to nearby shops to buy snacks.
His body and the remains of two more boys were later found on a deserted section of an industrial estate.
“The animal brutalized my child. I cannot bear this. I want justice,” Faizan’s mother, Amtal Salam. The family home overlooks the grave of her young son.
Local media reported three other children from the area have been missing since the middle of the year and another child had disappeared late last week after the bodies were found.
Videos of hundreds of local children being sexually assaulted were caught circulating in 2015, which a senior child protection official at the time called the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history.
Last year, the body of a 7-year-old girl was found in a garbage dumpster, which police said was the twelfth incident of a girl being abducted, raped and killed in the district in a year, and sparked violent protests. A man was convicted of the murder and was executed.
Hundreds more protested last week, blocking off streets and damaging shops.
Families in the area are fearful of the welfare and safety of their children.
“Now the children are afraid to go to the mosques, they are afraid to go to school. Announcements have been made that parents should escort their children to school,” said Shehnaz Bibi, a housewife from a neighboring village.
Police are continuing to investigate the suspected murders and disappearances and are also looking into the possibility of a serial killer. (REUTERS)
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