Cloudburst-induced flash floods kill 20 in KP

Published August 29, 2020
A man stands next to a house destroyed in a landslide in Upper Kohistan on Friday. (Below) A view of cars hit by landslides at Karakoram Highway near Tatta Pani in Diamer. — Dawn
A man stands next to a house destroyed in a landslide in Upper Kohistan on Friday. (Below) A view of cars hit by landslides at Karakoram Highway near Tatta Pani in Diamer. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: At least 20 people were killed and nine suffered injuries in flash floods caused by cloudbursts in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa overnight, officials said on Friday.

Also, landslides hit vehicles in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan killing a truck driver and injuring several others.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority said deaths were reported in Swat, Upper Kohistan and Shangla districts.

Eleven people were killed and nine were injured in Madyan valley of Swat district as the cloudburst-induced flash floods swept away two remote villages.

Seven members of a family were killed in Upper Kohistan, while Shangla district recorded two deaths.

Swat deputy commissioner Saqib Raza Aslam told Dawn that 11 people were killed in Shahgram and Teerat villages after flash floods swept away both hamlets after cloudbursts late on Thursday.

Houses, infrastructure damaged; rescue, rehabilitation operations underway

He said the administration had recovered six bodies, while search for the rest was under way.

Mr Aslam said a relief operation had been launched in the area as around 45 houses were destroyed by flash floods.

He said the raging torrents also destroyed bridges and disrupted electric supply, which could take five days for restoration.

Rescue 1122 director general Dr Khateer Ahmed said around 80 of the organisation’s rescuers were trying to recover missing people from the River Swat.

“The heavy rain began at 9am last night causing flooding in Shahgram stream. The floodwater began inundating houses at 10pm and destroyed nearly all houses along streams in no time,” said Akbar Ali, a resident of Shahgram.

He said majority of people had already left their houses sensing the imminent danger.

The flash floods killed seven members of a family and damaged scores of houses in different parts of Upper Kohistan district.

“The Karakoram Highway has been blocked at three points, while dozens of villages are inundated in different parts of the district. The rescue and rehabilitation operations have been launched with the support of the Frontier Works Organisation and police,” Upper Kohistan deputy commissioner Arif Yusufzai told reporters on Friday.

He said the district administration, police and FWO teams were carrying out rescue and relief operations in dozens of villages.

The deputy commissioner said a large number of families were affected by the natural calamity and displaced in Sazeen, Kanida, Harban and Dasu areas of the district.

A man stands next to a house destroyed in a landslide in Upper Kohistan on Friday. (Below) A view of cars hit by landslides at Karakoram Highway near Tatta Pani in Diamer. — Dawn
A man stands next to a house destroyed in a landslide in Upper Kohistan on Friday. (Below) A view of cars hit by landslides at Karakoram Highway near Tatta Pani in Diamer. — Dawn

“We have fished out bodies of a woman and her three children, while search for their three other family members is in progress. The family was swept away after their house was destroyed by flooding in Lachi Nullah of Sazeen village,” he said.

Mr Yusufzai said the damage assessment teams consisting of officials of the revenue and communication and works department had been dispatched to calamity-affected areas.

He said the FWO was clearing the Karakoram Highway, which had been blocked at three points due to landslides and soil erosion.

“We have been taking all possible measures for the early reopening of KKH and providing relief items to the families displaced in various villages due to flooding and damages,” he said.

Mr Yusufzai said the total damages caused by flash floods could be shared with media once assessment teams, which were present in the affected areas, would return and submit their reports.

Two people were killed in Shangla district after a landslide hit a house in Kuz Paw area of Makhozai tehsil.

The residents recovered bodies from under the mass of earth.

Landslides damaged houses in various parts of the district and blocked Police Station-Khataksar Road, Martung-Puran Road, Chakesar-Martung Road and others.

An official of the Met Office told Dawn that apparently, flooding was caused by cloudbursts, which usually occurred when a westerly weather system combined with monsoon rains.

Meanwhile, rains triggered flash floods and landslides across Gilgit-Baltistan claiming a life.

Police said landslides hit several cars, vans and trucks on the Karakoram Highway in Tatta Pani and Lal Pari areas of Diamer district killing a truck driver and injuring several passengers.

The tourist police rescued the injured and stranded passengers and shifted the deceased shifted to the hospital.

The landslides also blocked the KKH, Babusar Pass Road and link roads in Astore area. Flash floods also blocked link roads in Skardu.

The flash floods also destroyed over a dozen houses in Chatrun area and five in Basha Doghoru area of Shigar district and damaged infrastructure.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2020

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