30 dead, houses cave in as snow, rain set new record

Quetta: Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with heavy snowfall, rains and flash floods that left at least 54 people dead, officials said Monday as authorities struggled to clear and reopen highways and evacuate people to safer places.

In Pakistan, where 30 people were reported killed, much of the damage struck southwestern Balochistan province. Imran Zarkon, chief of provincial disaster management, said 14 died there in the past 24 hours, mainly when roofs collapsed amid heavy snowfall. Heavy snowfall had forced closures of many highways, with some parts in the province under six inches of snow. Eleven people were killed in Punjab province, battered by heavy rains, and five others died in the AJK areas, officials with the state-run emergency service said.

In Afghanistan, harsh weather conditions led to the death of at least 24 people, according to the ministry for disaster management.

The ministry’s spokesman, Ahmad Tameem Azimi added that flash floods destroyed 131 residential houses located mostly in the country’s south, west and northern provinces. Hasibullah Shaikhani, a press officer with the disaster management ministry, said most highways in Afghanistan were closed due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches. Residents of Kabul, where temperatures dropped to-15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), abandoned driving and struggled to get to work onsnow-covered roads. At least 30 people died and several others received injuries in different parts of the country during three days of heavy rain and snowfall till Monday. Rescue teams are active in the affected areas while snow was being removed on the roads for vehicles in different parts of the country.

Meanwhile, traffic system was also suspended in different areas of the Balochistan province. Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan said the provincial government was fully activated to open roads and to ensure provision of all possible help to the people in rain and snow affected areas, saying emergency has also been declared in seven districts which were affected from heavy rain and snowfall. He said: “We would take help of Pakistan Army to rescue people in Nukandi area, who were stuck in flood due to rain.” Provincial government departments including Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Communication and Works (C&W) and security forces including Levies Force, police and Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan personnel are busy to open roads by available machinery for ensuring restoration of traffic in the areas, said an official.

According to reports, six people were killed in Qilla Abdullah after collapsing of roof of a house, eight people died as a roof of mud house caved them in Zhob and three people killed in roof of house failing in Pishin due to heavy accumulation of snow during three days of snow. According to reports, over dozen people were also injured in various road accidents and incidents of roof collapsing in several part of province during rain and snowfalls areas.

AlamulKhabar Pakistan