CHITRAL/MANSEHRA: The bodies of two of the seven students lying buried in snow after an avalanche hit them nine days ago in Susoom village of Chitral were recovered on Sunday.

District council member Mohammad Yaqub told Dawn on phone that local people had sprayed water from a nearby irrigation channel on avalanche snow under which the bodies were believed to be lying.

He said the indigenous method was applied after several other techniques, including radar-fitted gadgets and sniffer dogs, had been exhausted. It worked well as water caused the snow to melt and two bodies surfaced.

They were identified as Iman Ali, son of Fazle Ali, and Umarud Din, son of Izatud Din, of Parsan village.

Mr Yaqub said personnel of the army, Chitral Scouts and Levies and police and local volunteers were searching for the bodies of five other students. He expressed the hope that the remaining bodies will be found in a couple of days.

Nine students were going back to their village after appearing in matriculation examination at a centre. They were crossing a mountain stream when the avalanche hit them in Susoom village of Karimabad valley. Two bodies were found a day after the incident.

Meanwhile, a massive landslide which had buried two people and six houses in Jabar village of Siren valley in Mansehra on Saturday continued on Sunday, hampering rescue work.

Local people retrieved the body of one of the victims, identified as Rafaqat, a student of grade seven, from the mass of earth and rock which had detached from a high mountain and fell on six houses. The body of Bukhtawar, who was stated to a close relative of Rafaqat, could not be found.

The landslide was triggered by recent rains. Roads leading to the village could not be reopened to traffic due to continuing rainfall.

“We fear more landslides and it would be more dangerous and destructive if rains continued,” said Abdul Wahid, a resident of Siren valley.

People of the valley who have remained cut off from the rest of the district for two weeks because of blocked roads heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday when rocks were removed from the roads by the administration to reach the area where three people had been hit by the landslides.

“I am on the spot along with federal minister Sardar Yousuf and we are monitoring the situation,” district nazim Sardar Said Ghulam told Dawn by telephone.

He said adjacent villages were also facing the threat of landslides.

Assistant Commissioner of Mansehra Naveed Ahmad told reporters that Deputy Commissioner Iqbal Hussain had rushed to village after the tragedy and supervised relief and rescue operations. “We have distributed tents and other relief items among the affected families,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2016

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