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CHITRAL: Chances of survival faded for seven students who were buried alive under an avalanche in Susoom village of Karimabad valley as there was no headway in their search on Monday.

A massive avalanche fell on a group of 10 students when they were crossing a mountainous stream while returning to their village on Saturday after appearing in the matriculation examination. Only one of them survived to inform the villagers about the incident. Bodies of two of them were found on Sunday.

The Deputy Commissioner of Chitral, Osama Ahmed Warraich, told Dawn that the main hurdle in carrying out an extensive search for the students was non-availability of heavy machinery. Besides, he added, the mammoth avalanche was continuously drifting downwards.

He said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) would send a team of rescue experts from Islamabad on Tuesday with special tools for the search. The experts would be dropped at the site by a helicopter.

He said he visited the area by a helicopter on Monday afternoon. Some snow and other debris have been removed from the road and medium-sized machinery will reach the site on Tuesday to expedite the work. But, he feared, the work for clearing the area from snow would take a considerable time.

NEW CENTRE: The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Peshawar, has yet to set up a new centre for the ongoing matriculation examination in the Hart village so that students could avoid crossing the avalanche to go to the centre in Susoom village.

Mohammad Yaqub, a member of the district council in the area, told Dawn on phone that the board officials decided on Sunday to set up a new centre, but now the villagers had been told that ‘technically’ it was not possible.

He expressed his satisfaction over efforts being made by the district administration and Chitral Scouts for search of the missing students.

NAUROZ: Nauroz, which is locally called “pathak dik”, was celebrated with low-key activities because of the tragedy which struck the students in Chitral district.

Anwar Baig, a resident of Garam Chashma valley, told Dawn on phone that all functions had been cancelled because of the incident.

Nauroz is usually celebrated with enthusiasm in Chitral.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2016