Karakoram Highway partially reopened as snow, landslides disrupt life in GB

Published February 21, 2024
The Karakoram Highway was re opened for traffic near Chilas, on Tuesday.— Courtesy district administration
The Karakoram Highway was re opened for traffic near Chilas, on Tuesday.— Courtesy district administration

GILGIT: The Karakoram Highway (KKH) was partially reopened for traffic on Tuesday, while the Baltistan Road remained closed for the third consecutive day following heavy snowfall in Gilgit-Baltistan, an official source said.

The Gilgit-Chilas section of KKH has been cleared for one-way traffic to restore the region’s road connectivity with other parts of the country, officials told Dawn.

The roads were closed due to landslides following heavy rain and snowfall. The debris of falling rocks and inches of snow at multiple locations left thousands of passengers stranded.

An official of the Skardu district administration told Dawn that the Baltistan Road couldn’t be reopened at multiple locations due to heavy landslide.

He said clearance work was underway at the highway, and it will be opened for traffic soon. Locals complained that work to reopen the road was progressing at a slow pace, thus hampering their daily life.

Baltistan Road still blocked after three days; official says no casualty, major damage reported in region

Public Works Department Secretary Safdar Khan told Dawn that all inter-district roads and other link roads have been opened.

They said thousands of people from across GB are stranded at multiple locations due to the closure of Baltistan Road, which is a lifeline for residents of Baltistan division.

He said machinery had been mobilised across the region and the weather was improving as well.

According to Mr Khan, no major damage or casualties has been reported from any area of GB.

“All line department personnel are alert to cope with any emergency situation, and control rooms have been established in all districts to monitor the situation,” he said.

On Monday, a rockfall hit a car on Baltistan Road near Bagcha village of Roundu. Fortunately, four passengers on board remained safe while the car was damaged.

Flights between Islam­abad, Skardu and Gilgit were also suspended with disruptions in electricity supply and mobile and internet connectivity.

The GB chief minister, Haji Gul­bar Khan, has issued ins­tructions to the region’s Disaster Mana­ge­ment Authority, all divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, and administrative officers to be prepared for heavy rains and snowfall. He directed them to keep all machinery ready for road rehabilitation and human life assistance across Gilgit-Baltistan.

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 21st, 2024

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