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Snowfall, rain paralyse major parts of NWFP

January 10, 2008

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MANSEHRA/CHITRAL, Jan 9: Heavy snow and torrential rain have caused severe damage to the road network and the telecommunication system in northern parts of the NWFP, particularly in the mountainous Hazara and Malakand regions.

In the Oghi sub-division of Mansehra district, a woman and her daughter died on Tuesday night when her house collapsed.

Situation in Chitral and Shangla districts, which received more than seven feet of snow in two days, has deteriorated and many houses have been destroyed or partially damaged.

Widespread rain and heavy snowfall triggered avalanches and landslides in Mansehra and Kohistan districts.

Reports said that hundreds of passengers were stranded on both sides of the Karakoram Highway in Kohistan. Avalanches and boulders have blocked the highway on several points. Heavy landslides blocked the highway at Thakot on Wednesday. The Kaghan road which was blocked on Sunday following heavy snowfall could not be opened.

Regional head of the Frontier Works Organisation Brig Shahid Manzoor told Dawn in Mansehra that the FWO could not engage machinery to clear the highway and other link roads due to bad weather. He said that rescue operation would be started after the weather cleared.

Khalid Khan adds from Shangla: Heavy snowfall has affected the supply of drinking water and electricity and telecommunication system. A large number of vehicles was stuck on various link roads in the Shangla district.

A three-storey building collapsed in the Dheri union council, but did not cause any loss of life.

Zahiruddin adds from Chitral: Life in Chitral remained paralysed for the second day on Wednesday due to heavy snowfall and rain.

Vehicular traffic in the district could not be restored as work to clear the snow is yet to begin. The government offices and markets wore a deserted look.

Some aged people said that the magnitude of snow accumulation was unprecedented for more than 60 years. “We have never seen such snowfall,” they said.

Power supply to the district has been suspended while shortage of essential commodities has been reported from different areas of the district.

Chitral DPO Sher Akbar Khan told Dawn that no loss of life or property had been reported from any part of the district.

An official in the Peshawar Met office said that heavy snowfall had damaged telecommunication lines in Chitral and they were unable to obtain data about snow. He said they had also lost contact with their office in Kalam in the Swat district.

The Met Office said that the earthquake-hit Balakot town in the Mansehra district had received 50mm rain, Abbottabad 44mm, Charat 28mm, Malam Jaba 28mm, Kohat 27mm, Upper Dir 26mm, Saidu Sharif 20mm, Peshawar 20mm and Risalpur 14mm. It forecast more rains for different parts of the province and tribal region.

In Peshawar city, rainwater has accumulated on several roads and streets. The Met Office said that the weather would remain cloudy on Thursday. Hours-long power loadshedding and low gas pressure have added to the problems of the people. Despite heavy downpour, consumers were seen waiting outside fair price shops to buy flour.

Our Abbottabad correspondent adds: Acute food shortage has been reported in Galyat due to closure of main and link roads while the entire area has been without electricity for five days.

Barrister Javed Abbasi, former Naib Nazim of Abbottabad and candidate for the provincial assembly, has requested the NWFP caretaker government to take immediate relief measures in the area and demanded early clearance of the roads.

Many parts of the Abbottabad district which received heavy snow and rain are plunged into darkness as power supply line has been damaged and the Peshawar Electric Supply Company is yet to initiate repair work.

About nine union councils in Galyat including Barian, Changla Gali, Koza Gali, Donga Gali, Ayubia, Tajwal, Nagri Bala, Nathiagali and Bakot circle have been affected by bad weather. Snow and landslides have blocked link roads in the district.