Landslides halt traffic on Karakoram Highway, Baltistan Road

Published February 22, 2024
Work to remove debris from Baltistan Road continues hours after a landslide hit the area.—Photo by the writer
Work to remove debris from Baltistan Road continues hours after a landslide hit the area.—Photo by the writer

GILGIT: The Karako­ram Highway (KKH) and Baltistan Road have once again been shut down due to landslides triggered by heavy snowfall and rain.

The closures, announced on Wednesday, follow brief periods of restoration for light traffic earlier in the week, aggravating the challenges faced by both residents and tourists due to adverse weather.

An official of the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Mana­gement Authority told Dawn the region’s weather was improving, but the damage from Monday and Tuesday’s severe weather events has led to significant disruptions.

The KKH was obstruc­ted at several points near the Thore area of Chilas and the Diamer Basha Dam construction site, officials told Dawn. As a result, thousands of passengers were stranded once again on both sides of the highway.

Efforts to mitigate the impact include diverting light traffic through the old KKH route. Mean­while, clearance operations are actively ongoing using heavy machinery.

Closures leave passengers stranded; residents brave power outages

Similarly, the Baltistan Road witnessed its fourth consecutive day of closure, with partial openings being short-lived due to new landslides near the Roundu area of Skardu, severing land communication for the residents once more.

Despite these challenges, GBDMA Director General Safdar Khan assured that traffic restoration efforts were in full swing across the affected areas, with no significant casualties or damage reported thus far.

The GB government has issued a weather alert effective until Feb 27, advising people to avoid non-essential travel. Meanwhile, aerial connections between Islamabad, Skardu and Gilgit face disruptions for the third day.

People in the region’s upper areas are in the grip of cold waves and are faced with power outages and communication disruptions.­

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

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