Rain-induced floods, land sliding block Karakoram Highway, disrupt life in Gilgit-Baltistan

Published July 22, 2021
This photo shows a road damaged due to land sliding in Gilgit-Baltistan. — Photo by author
This photo shows a road damaged due to land sliding in Gilgit-Baltistan. — Photo by author
A vehicle damaged due to land sliding on the Karakoram Highway. — Photo by author
A vehicle damaged due to land sliding on the Karakoram Highway. — Photo by author

Landsliding, a glacial lake outburst and flash floods caused by continuous heavy rain in Gilgit-Baltistan since the past four days has disrupted life in the area, causing damage to scores of vehicles and blocking roads, particularly on the Karakoram Highway, officials said.

As a result of rain-induced floods, the land route between Gilgit and Rawalpindi has also been blocked, and tourists, in particular, are facing difficulties.

On Thursday, the Karakoram Highway remained closed for traffic for the second consecutive day due to land sliding at Tatta Pani and Lal Pari areas of GB's Diamer district, according to the Diamer police control room. As a result, several tourists were stuck.

According to Information Department Deputy Director Farooq Ahmed Khan, the Karakoram Highway had been blocked for traffic at nine points due to land sliding. He said the road had been cleared at seven of the affected points and restoration work at the two remaining points was under way since Thursday morning.

The land sliding in Tatta Pani also caused damage to several vehicles, including an oil tanker. However, no casualty due to a rain-related incidents was reported in the area till the filing of this report.

District administration officials in Diamer told Dawn.com that efforts were under way to clear the Karakoram Highway for traffic, but they were facing difficulties as stones continued to roll down the mountains.

They added that Babusar Pass Road, another artery affected by rains, had been opened for traffic.

Meanwhile, access to three villages was blocked due to a glacial lake outburst at Badswat, according to the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority.

The authority said many residents in the affected villages had vacated their houses. It added that the flood had caused damage to trees and houses over a vast area in the villages.

According to the authority, floods had also inundated the road running parallel to Wakhan Patti in Hunza and leading to Shimshal valley. The officials said Miacher road, which connected multiple villages in Nagar, Hunza, was also blocked for traffic.

The Inter Services Public Relations said aid was being provided to those stuck due to floods in Badswat via an army helicopter and the force commander had visited the area to review the rescue and aid efforts.

GB Chief Minister Mohammad Khalid Khursheed Khan has directed the relevant department to clear the affected roads for traffic at the earliest and provide aid to families affected by the floods. He has particularly instructed the GB Home Department, Water and Power Department and the Frontier Works Organisation to expedite the aid efforts.

Given the situation, the authorities have also advised tourists not to travel beyond Diamer's Chilas city.

Meanwhile, four persons who had gone missing after a glacial lake outburst flood two weeks ago in Gilgit's Naltar valley could not be found till the filing of this report.

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