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Thousands stranded after snowfall

February 07, 2008


QUETTA, Feb 6: Thousands of people were stranded in the northern areas of Balochistan after Quetta’s road link with Chaman, Toba Achakzai and Toba Kakari was cut off because of heavy snowfall which continued for the fourth straight day on Wednesday.

The temperature dropped to below freezing point in many parts of the province.

Frontier Corps (FC) helicopters carrying food and other items for the affected people were unable to carry out their relief operation.

“Two FC helicopters tried twice to land in the affected areas, but the harsh weather prevented the pilots from dropping food and other items,” official sources told Dawn, adding that the FC was trying to reach the people.

Sources said that the department concerned had sent engineers and other staff along with heavy machinery for reopening the blocked roads.

Reports reaching here said that four persons, including a woman and two children had been killed in Toba Achakzai and Toba Kakari due to severe cold. However, official sources denied any deaths and said the provincial government would soon launch a rescue operation in the affected areas.

Traffic between Quetta and Kandahar through Chaman could not be restored for the fifth day on Wednesday as snowfall on the Khojak Pass continued. Hundreds of vehicles, including oil tankers carrying fuel for Nato forces, remained stranded.

Normal life remained disrupted in the provincial capital and other parts of northern and central Balochistan. The sever cold wave was causing food shortages in Toba Kakari, Toba Achakzai and the border towns of Dobandi and Chaman. Roads remained deserted in Quetta with shopkeepers shutting down businesses in the afternoon. People preferred to remain indoors.

The maximum temperature in Quetta was recorded at minus 1.5 degrees Centigrade and in Kalat at minus 8 and Ziarat valley at minus 10. The minimum temperature in Quetta was recorded at minus 10 and in Kalat at minus 15 degrees.

“The maximum and minimum temperatures are expected to drop further in Quetta, Kalat, Ziarat and many other area of Balochistan,” the Met Office said, adding that the cold wave would continue for another four to five days.

People living in Quetta and the districts, Mastung, Kalat, Pishin and Ziarat are also facing hardships due to low gas pressure. The Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) said that gas consumption had increased manifold in the province causing low pressure in many areas.