SKARDU: A car is trapped amid debris and fallen rocks on Baltistan Road, following a landslide near Baghicha Village of Roundu Valley, on Monday.—Courtesy Rescue 1122
SKARDU: A car is trapped amid debris and fallen rocks on Baltistan Road, following a landslide near Baghicha Village of Roundu Valley, on Monday.—Courtesy Rescue 1122

GILGIT: Intermittent rain and snowfall have disrupted life in Gilgit-Baltistan, causing landslides that blocked major roads, including the Karakoram Highway and Baltistan Road at multiple locations.

Thousands of passengers travelling to and from Gilgit-Baltistan are stra­nded due to road blockades, as temperatures dropped below zero, and electricity remained suspended.

Officials reported that rain in lower areas and snowfall in upper areas began on Monday morning and continued until evening.

Landslides blocked the Karakoram Highway at multiple locations, including Achar Nallah in Kohistan and the Thore area after rockfall triggered by rain.

Thousands of passengers, including children, women, and senior citizens, are stranded on both sides.

A local source informed Dawn that hundreds of vehicles are stranded at Achar Nallah in Kohistan on both sides of the Karakoram High­way, with thousands of passe­ngers affected. Simi­larly, heavy snowfall blocked Baltistan Road at multiple locations in the Roundu area of Skardu, leaving thousands of passengers travelling to and from Baltistan stuck.

Landslides also blocked the Ghizer-Shandur Road in the Bargho area, causing link roads in upper areas and inter-district roads to remain disconnected. After snowfall, roads in upper areas became slippery, causing difficulties for travellers, and temperatures dropped below minus six in upper areas.

The upper areas of Ghizer, Hunza, Nagar, Skardu, Shigar, Khar­mang, Astore, and Ghanche received three to six inches of snowfall. According to Rescue 1122, a rockfall hit a car on Baltistan Road near Bagcha village of Roundu, fortunately, four passengers on board remained safe with minor injuries, while the car was damaged.

Flights between Islam­abad and Skardu and Gilgit were also suspended on Monday. Electricity, mobile, and internet connectivity were disrupted in many areas of the region.

According to a statement, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Haji Gul­bar Khan issued ins­tructions to GB Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), all divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, and administrative officers in all districts to deal with the expected situation due to heavy rains and snowfall. He directed them to keep all machinery ready for road rehabilitation and human life assistance across Gilgit-Baltistan.

The chief minister also instructed all concerned departments to advise people to avoid unnecessary travel in view of the ex­­pected rains and snowfall.

After prolonged dry weather conditions, GB has started receiving snowfall and rain. The GB government issued a weather alert predicting heavy rainfall and snow from Feb 19 to 27.

Deputy commissioners have also instructed the departments to remain alert for emergency situations.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

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