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14 dead as avalanche strikes Chitral

Updated February 05, 2017

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At least 14 people were killed in an avalanche in Chitral's Sher Shal area on Sunday.

Chitral Scouts Commandant Col Nizamuddin Shah told DawnNews the bodies of 14 had been recovered from the debris, including six women, six children and two men.

Nine people injured in the natural disaster have been shifted to Civil Hospital Garam Chashma, according to Radio Pakistan.

The region has been hit by heavy snowfall that is four feet deep in some places.

The avalanche struck around 3am, Sheema Ayub Khan, a spokeswoman for the Disaster Management Authority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told AFP.

A Frontier Constabulary soldier died and six others were injured when a Chitral scout post was affected by a second avalanche in Chitral's Pishotan area near the Pak-Afghan border. The soldiers were rescued early morning, ISPR said.

At least 25 houses have been buried and five houses have been destroyed, Col Shah said.

Chitral District Nazim Maghfirat Shah told Dawn that due to heavy snowfall in the area over the past two days several families had been shifted to safer locations.

Rescue operations are ongoing in Chitral. ─ DawnNews
Rescue operations are ongoing in Chitral. ─ DawnNews

However, he added, some families had remained in the locality which was affected by the avalanche today.

As heavy snowfall was blocking the main roads, the injured were transported to smaller medical centres in the area as they could not be taken to District Headquarters Hospital for treatment.

"There is no way to rush the injured persons to Chitral hospital [either] because all roads in the valley have been blocked due to heavy snowfall," Chitral Deputy Commissioner Shahab Hameed Yousafzai told Reuters.

Evacuation operations were also delayed by the weather, he added.

A rescue operation in Chaghi area was completed, ISPR said, as the FC and PDMA worked overnight to rescue 108 stranded travelers and shifted them to Noshki.

It is unclear how many people have been affected by the avalanche as yet.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has activated the National Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate rescue and relief efforts in the avalanche-hit area.

The NDMA is coordinating the provision of a helicopter for the operations and has also asked the National Highways Authority to fully mobilise its machinery on all critical sections for road clearance.

Inter-Services Public Relations said Chitral Frontier Constabulary troops are assisting the civil administration and NDMA for rescue operations in Sher Shal.

An army helicopter will supply relief items and expedite the rescue operation subject to weather clearance, ISPR said.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa directed the army to provide maximum assistance to the NDMA, PDMA and local administration for timely and effective rescue and relief operations.