GILGIT: With large swathes of cultivated and other land coming under water, floodwaters and landslides blocking several vital roads and thousands of people getting marooned, flooding caused by rapid melting of glaciers has wreaked havoc across Gilgit-Baltistan.

Two people were killed when a family was hit by floodwaters, sources said on Thursday.

Police said that floodwaters from the Gonarforam stream hit a mother, her daughter and her son in the Goharabad valley of Diamer district. The mother and daughter, identified as Shaheen Begum and Zainab, drowned.

Part of Karakoram Highway submerged by water

Only the daughter’s body had been recovered so far, the sources said. The son, who survived but received injuries in the incident, was shifted to the district headquarters hospital in Chilas.

A woman was killed and her son injured when a suspension bridge collapsed in the Niat valley of Diamer district, sources said. The reason behind the incident could not be ascertained immediately.

Floodwaters from the Gonarforam stream also blocked the Karakoram Highway and inundated large tracks of cultivated land. Traffic between Gilgit-Baltistan and the rest of the country remained suspended as a result.

Flooding and land erosion badly hit the road leading to and from the Hisper valley of Nagar district, thus severing its link with the rest of the country.

Landslides also damaged crops and water channels in the Daskin valley of Astore district.

Floodwaters from rivers and streams blocked link roads, marooning people living in remote parts of Gilgit, Diamer and Baltistan divisions.

Floodwaters continued to pour out of the Batsuwat Nullah in the Ishkoman valley of Ghizer district. The flow of the Immit river has been blocked, creating an artificial lake. The upstream areas remained cut off from the rest of the country for the second day on Thursday. People of ten villages were badly affected as a result.

The deputy commissioner of Ghizer, Shuja Alam, said that because of landslides rescue operations could not be launched in the upstream areas. However, tent villages had been set up in the downstream areas. Food and relief supplies had also been dispatched to those areas.

He said that water was spilling over from the artificial lake, thus reducing the risk of a massive lake burst. A red alert had been issued for the people living in the downstream areas.

“As soon as the flooding and landslides will stop we will be able to access the affected areas,” Mr Alam said.

The artificial lake had inundated an area spanning about two kilometres, submerging more than 30 houses, cattle farms, vehicles and infrastructure, he said.

The local administration was in contact with the people living in the upstream areas, he added.

Meanwhile, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman has taken notice of the situation.

According to a press release issued by the Chief Minister House, Mr Rehman had directed the disaster management authority and the Ghizer administration to take emergency measures to save people from impending dangers and to provide relief to those already affected by the calamity.

The chief minister instructed the heads of all the departments concerned to immediately launch rescue and relief works.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2018

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