MANSEHRA: A massive landslide struck at least seven houses in Kohistan district on Monday morning, burying alive at least 30 people.

Kohistan Deputy Commissioner Fazl-i-Khaliq told journalists that widespread rains had softened up a huge portion of a hill which fell on the houses in Thor Nullah Bari area of Kandia tehsil.

He said a police team had been sent to the area to ascertain the situation. Locals also rushed to the area, but could not start rescue wok fearing more landslides.

Mr Khaliq said the terrain was very tough and recent landslides had swept away several roads and, therefore, he had requested the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to send helicopters for rescue work. Personnel from four police stations near the affected area were asked to reach there and take part in the rescue operation.

A police officer said that since the Karakoram Highway was blocked at a number of places in Mansehra and Kohistan, rescue and relief operations had become difficult.

He said 26 nationals of Germany, China and South Korea working on various projects in Kohistan were safe and they were in contact with local police.

Hafizur Rehman, a resident of Kandia valley, told reporters that local people were trying to remove boulders and earth which had fallen on the houses, but they immediately required heavy machinery, including excavators. “Huge boulders and rocks cannot be removed without heavy machinery,” he added.

TOURISTS STRANDED: At least 25 foreign tourists, including Chinese and Japanese, have been stranded in Besham area of Shangla for two days because of landslides in the Karakoram Highway.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority asked the National Disaster Management Authority to dispatch helicopters to reach people marooned in Hazara and Malakand divisions.

“The provincial authority has requested NDMA to provide helicopters to start relief operation in inaccessible pockets,”

Latifur Rehman, spokesman for the PDMA, told Dawn in Peshawar. He said the district authorities needed helicopters in the two districts to distribute relief goods among the stranded people.

Torrential rains which started two days ago in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caused widespread damage to houses and triggered landslides in Malakand and Hazara.

According to the PDMA, the calamity has so far claimed the lives of 47 people. At least 37 others have suffered injuries. Over 145 houses have been damaged.

Mr Rehman said there were several pockets in Mansehra and Kohistan where local authorities could not distribute relief goods because of want of helicopters, adding that weather was still harsh in upper parts of the province. He said relief items had been dispatched to district headquarters in the affected areas.

A heavy landslide hit a market in Karora area, damaging five houses, two shops and a petrol pump on Monday. However, no human loss or injury was reported.

A local nazim said landslides posed a potential threat to a bazaar and a village and people had already moved to safe places.

Frontier Works Organisation officials said the Karakoram Highway was blocked at more than 20 points and floods had damaged a bridge in Kayal area.

Flash floods had swept away dozens of shops in Serband area on the outskirts of Peshawar. The rising water level in Kabul river has forced a large number of families in Camp Corona, near Peshawar, to move to safe areas.

Omar Bacha in Shangla and Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar contributed to the report.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2016

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