At least 55 people have been killed after flash floods, triggered by heavy, unseasonal rains in northern Pakistan, caused landslides in the mountainous region in the country. According to the New York Times, initially, the deaths of over 45 people were reported on Sunday. The death toll has, however, subsequently risen to over 50 — with some media outlets putting the number at 57.
Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities have launched a massive rescue effort, with several emergency response teams being deployed to help the injured survivors. The landslide caused by the rain has also led to several villages being completely cut off from the rest of the nation.
The unseasonal rains were caused by a low pressure area that developed in the region, which is not known to experience heavy rainfall during this time of the year. The stormy weather is likely to hover around the same area for the next few days, after which it is expected to move to India. The northern areas of Pakistan can, therefore, experience more wet weather in the days to come, officials from the Pakistan Meteorological Department confirmed.
Among the worst affected by the heavy rainfall was the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which has been facing an insurgency crisis since the past few years. The following is according to to Yousuf Zia, a disaster management official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“Nearly 150 homes had been destroyed and tents and blankets were being distributed to the homeless.”
Describing the situation to be very fragile, he further adds.
“There are 30 people stranded by a landslide in the Kohistan Valley where we have sent a helicopter to rescue them.”
While most of the casualties happened in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, eight deaths have been reported from areas in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, confirms senior government officials. The official number of injured in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone is estimated to be 37. The heavy rains, followed by flash floods and landslides, have also led to severe damage to the local infrastructure with widespread damage to roads, power, and communication facilities. The areas adjoining Swat valley were among the worst affected. This area recorded more than 121 mm (4.76-inches) of rainfall on Sunday alone, the Pakistan Meteorological Department confirmed on Sunday.
— Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) April 4, 2016
Meanwhile, a report by Pakistani newspaper, The Nation adds that the torrential rains have resulted in the complete destruction of a bridge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The affected bridge is known as the Shalpalam Bridge located in the in Lower Dir region of the province. The bridge was the only connection between Lower Dir region and other areas of the country. The town of Nowshehra, which is located on the banks of the Kabul river, is reportedly flooded, with more than 100 homes affected by the flood. The report also adds that 17 of the deaths were reported from Shangla town. Meanwhile, an avalanche caused by the weather resulted in the deaths of three people from a home. It also caused six injuries. Another avalanche was reported from the Ranial area, where five persons of a family were killed when the avalanche hit their house. Several others were injured in the avalanche, with most of being being shifted to district headquarters hospital.
Pakistan’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has confirmed 12 deaths in the region of Kohistan. Several landslides were also reported from the region, which resulted in the closure of the Kurakuram Highway passing through Kohistan. Thirteen deaths were reported from Malakand, Mansehra, Upper Dir, Charsadda, and Chitral, reports say.
The PDMA says it has already dispatched tons of relief goods, including 200 tents each to Swat, Shangla, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, and Kohistan districts. A clearer picture of the extensive damage caused by the flash floods will only become clearer in the next few days.
[Photo by AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad]