Clearance efforts afoot as landslides block Gilgit-Baltistan roads

Published June 21, 2022
The Jaglot-Skardu road is blocked due to landsliding, near Maloopa village in Skardu’s Roundu valley. The road closures are hampering movement in the area, while authorities have warned tourists not to travel to Deosai or other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan as long as heavy rains are forecast for the region.—Twitter/DCSkardu
The Jaglot-Skardu road is blocked due to landsliding, near Maloopa village in Skardu’s Roundu valley. The road closures are hampering movement in the area, while authorities have warned tourists not to travel to Deosai or other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan as long as heavy rains are forecast for the region.—Twitter/DCSkardu

• NDMA issues alert for torrential rains causing landslides, urban flooding
• FWO clearing Jaglot-Skardu road
• Tourists advised against travelling at night, during rain
• Over 100kmph winds recorded in Lahore

ISLAMABAD / GILGIT / PESHAWAR: As rain-triggered landslides have blocked a major road at multiple locations in the upper parts of the country between Gilgit and Skardu, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has warned the departments concerned to remain alert in the wake of a series of heavy rains in the country from Monday to Wednesday that may cause further landsliding and urban flooding.

Also on Monday, intermittent rain continued to lash the upper parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to the latest advisory issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the series of torrential rains with winds and thundershowers, beginning in upper and central parts of the country from Monday, will continue till Wednesday. All provincial departments, National Highway Authority, Frontier Works Organisation and other institutions have been asked to remain alert and take precautionary measures.

The new rain spell might trigger landslides in vulnerable areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Galiyat, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and generate flash floods in the local nullahs in Rawalpindi/Islamabad, KP, Punjab, Kashmir, GB and northeast Balochistan where windstorms may damage dilapidated structures.

The NDMA has also advised those residing in low-lying areas to immediately report any emergency situation.

“[The weather pattern] may cause urban flooding in Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Lahore during the forecast period,” the Met Office warned, advising travellers and tourists to remain extra cautious during the forecast period and avoid unnecessary travel.

The Met Office also expected the monsoon to set in during the last week of June.

The monsoon rainfall is expected to be above normal over Punjab and Sindh, and slightly above normal over the remaining parts of the country. The first phase of monsoon (July 1 to mid-Aug) is expected to be wet as compared to the last phase (mid-Aug to end-Sept).

Skardu road blockades

Over the last 24 hours, Skardu Deputy Commissioner Kareem Dad Chughtai has been tweeting pictures of landslide-induced blockade of the Jaglot-Skardu road at multiple points. On Monday, he said the 160-kilometre patch that connected Gilgit and Skardu, and was a major link with the Karakoram Highway, was blocked at Chamachu, Maloppa, Tormik and other areas of Skardu following torrential rains.

He further said the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) was working to clear the road, and advised tourists against taking the route until it was cleared. He especially urged people not to travel at night until Thursday and in the rain during the day.

Further issuing a travel advisory for tourists flocking to the region for summer vacation, Mr Chughtai tweeted that heavy rains continued in Deosai plains and tourists were advised against travelling from Skardu to Astore and vice versa during rains. “Night travel via Deosai is prohibited for tonight.”

Meanwhile, scattered rain across GB lowered the mercury levels, and hilly areas received snowfall. Rain-induced flooding also damaged houses and roads in the Ghanche district. Several tourists visiting the region faced difficulties after the Jaglot-Skardu road blockade as well as the sudden change in weather pattern.

According to the Met Office, rain-thundershower is expected in GB and other parts of the country.

Earlier on Friday, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had issued an alert to its GB chapter and other district disaster management authorities to stay vigilant in the wake of a looming risk of a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) amid the prevailing weather conditions.

Rain in KP

On the other hand, intermittent rain continued to lash the upper parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday; however, no casualties were reported, officials said.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said the flow of rivers was normal, however, a GLOF was reported in the remote Ishperu Gol area of Terich village of Upper Chitral that damaged a 50kV micro-hydel power station in the area.

The PDMA also said that over the past 24 hours, the Kalkot Daba Road in Upper Dir as well as the Swat-Shangal main road at Machar area of Alpuri of Shangla district had been blocked due to land-sliding, but were later cleared.

Meanwhile, the Lahore airport area witnessed winds in excess of 100 kilometres per hour, as the gale reached speeds of up to 55 knots, the Met Office in Lahore said on Monday night.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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