SKARDU: People cross the Skardu-Juglot Road on Monday after heavy landslide in Turmic area blocked it; (right) Gojal Assistant Commissioner Asghar Khan seals the Hussaini suspension bridge.—APP / Courtesy assistant commissioner
SKARDU: People cross the Skardu-Juglot Road on Monday after heavy landslide in Turmic area blocked it; (right) Gojal Assistant Commissioner Asghar Khan seals the Hussaini suspension bridge.—APP / Courtesy assistant commissioner

GILGIT: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday took notice of the landslide-induced blockade at Skardu-Juglot Road and ordered the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) to open the artery on an “emergency basis” as Eid is just round the corner.

As a result of landslides, there have been blockades on Skardu-Juglot Road — the only artery used to supply fuel and other essential items to the Baltistan division — in multiple areas of Roundu Valley, Skardu.

PM Sharif said the Tormik section of the road should be opened on an emergency basis and directed the FWO chief to “use extra machinery and manpower” to restore the traffic. “People will be travelling to their homes to spend the Eid holidays; therefore, the work to remove blockades should be expedited,” the premier added.

He also issued directions for a smooth “supply of essential commodities” and measures to facilitate the tourists stranded in the area due to the blockades. “There has been an increase in the consumption of essential commodities in Gilgit-Baltistan due to an increase in the influx of tourists,” the premier said and directed that there should be no shortage of food items.

Tourist killed after falling off Hussaini suspension bridge in Hunza

PM Sharif took notice of the road closure at the request of the local tourism industry whose businesses were being affected due to the “protracted road closure”.

Over the past two weeks, Juglot-Skardu Road remained closed for at least six days. The current blockade has lasted for three days now and despite clearance efforts, it could take at least two days to restore the traffic on the route.

Tourist falls off Hussaini bridge

In a separate incident, a tourist from Hyderabad fell into the Hunza River from the famous Hussaini hanging bridge.

Gojal Assistant commissioner Asghar Khan told Dawn that Syed Murtaza Ali Shah had come to Gojal on a trip organised by a private tour operator.

On Monday morning, Mr Shah went to the suspension bridge with his colleagues and a cousin when the incident occurred.

According to the AC, the body of the deceased was retrieved from the river near Goharabad, a locality of Gulmit, after a two-hour search operation conducted by local authorities and Rescue 1122. The body was subsequently moved to a local hospital from where it was sent to his native city in Sindh after the initial police investigation.

AC Khan said the tourist was an epilepsy patient and claimed that Mr Shah might have fallen off the bridge as a result of a seizure.

According to the Gojal AC, the bridge has been sealed till the completion of a police investigation into the incident.

The 635-feet-long suspension bridge, made of wooden planks and rope, is among the “most dangerous bridges” in the world. There are huge gaps between the wooden planks making it difficult to cross the bridge which is operated by the local community.

Tourists are allowed to visit the bridge after paying Rs300 for a ticket. However, in order to visit the bridge, they are supposed to comply with precautionary measures, such as wearing life jackets. Similarly, old people and children are not allowed on the bridge to avoid any unfortunate incident.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022

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