Record snowfall, rains kill 42 across country

February 11, 2005

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ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR, Feb 10: The heaviest rains and snowfalls in more than a decade killed at least 42 people across the country and 10 others are reported missing since last week as incessant rains and heavy snowfall showed no sign of abating on Thursday, government officials at the Crisis Management Centre.

As the rains and snowfall continued to punish the people across the country there was a total confusion as to which department is responsible for providing relief to the people as officials of both the provincial government and city and district governments were not ready to accept the responsibility of providing relief to the people and were holding each other responsible for the job, multiplying miseries of the people.

"Our reports are still very sketchy and as we don't know the full picture. Our reports have been compiled from the Daily Situation Reports and not all the districts have sent in their Reports," NWFP Home Secretary Abdul Karim Kasuria said.

The figures compiled by Dawn presented a grim picture as at least 32 people have been killed in NWFP alone since Wednesday but these details are still sketchy and no exact figures were available. The situation is no different in other parts of the country as the inclement weather has knocked out communication network, making data compiling very difficult.

Reports received from tribal areas speak of massive devastation but actual death toll and damage to property could not be ascertained because most roads have become unmotorable and a large number of telephone lines were dead.

In Mansehra district, six people died when roofs of their houses collapsed in three different areas, District Coordinating Officer Hussainzada Khan told Dawn by phone from the area.

He said that four people of a family were killed in Battal while one each died in Tumri and Ghazikot villages in Mansehra.

Over 157 heads of cattle had been killed due severe cold, he said. "Most of the roads are closed and the area is inaccessible. It is difficult to go to other areas and find out what has really happened there," Mr Khan said.

Three children and a woman were killed in Mankial in Swat district as an avalanche hit two houses, leaving six other people wounded.

Witnesses said the houses were buried under tons of snow and the local people had to work hard to retrieve their bodies.

"There is no sign of the houses," said one witness. Rescuers are still trying to take out 10 people who were buried when the avalanche hit the locality, the witness said.

Officials in Peshawar said that 10 people were missing and were presumed to have been killed.

"We don't know what has happened to them but we think that those missing are most probably killed," Mr. Kasuria told this paper.

Three people were killed and three others wounded in the northern Kohistan district, while five people were killed in the adjoining Battagram district of Hazara.

Similarly, three people were killed and three others wounded when a house collapsed in Peshawar district. Four people were killed and three others wounded when houses collapsed due to rains in Mardan's Shergarh and Takht-Bai area.

A man and his wife were killed when the roof of their house collapsed in Banda Fatakhankhel in Shahpur Union Council, Kohat district.

A tailor was killed when roof of his shop caved in in Shakardara area, about 55 kilometres from Kohat.

Two people were killed and three others wounded in village Pind Kargokhan in Gailliyat near Abbottabad.

A driver of a bulldozer clearing the snow from a road was killed when his bulldozer overturned, killing the driver on the spot.

A girl was killed when the roof of her room collapsed in Jehangir Kaki village in Bannu district.

Adding salt to wounds, there appears to be total confusion as to who or which department is collecting the casualty figures from what has now turned into a natural calamity.

"There is a complete confusion," acknowledged one senior government official.

"The district nazims are totally oblivious to their role, the DCOs don't know who to contact and where to get the relief goods from," said this official.

While the Crisis Management Centre said it was compiling statistics on its own and said that the job was primarily supposed to be done by the office of the Relief Commission.

The Relief Commission officials say they did not have casualty figures nor did they have any reports of damage to property caused by unusual rains and snowfall.

The provincial home secretary said he had to send written instructions to all DCOs to send their reports to the Relief Commission to enable them to assess the damage caused by the catastrophe.

MURREE: Heavy snowfall in Murree has broken the 29-year record as five-and-a-half feet of sown recorded there during last eight days, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) report said on Thursday.

Snowfall also continued in Northern Areas for the eight consecutive day as Kalat, Malam Jabba, Kaghan and Naran received seven feet of snow.

The met office said the rain and snowfall will continue in different parts of the country for the next two days. Murree and Galliyat have so far received 13.5 feet of snow during the current winter.

It said the current spell of rains will conclude on Friday in most parts of the country but rain will continue for two more days in Islamabad, Kashmir, upper Punjab and upper North West Frontier Province.

It said the whole country was in the grip of severe cold due to widespread torrential rains and snow fall in the hilly areas.

The lowest temperature was recorded in Murree where the mercury dropped to minus six degree centigrade. The maximum temperature recorded in the hilly report was three degree centigrade.

In Gilgit, the minimum temperature was two degree centigrade followed by Quetta where it was three degree centigrade. The lowest temperature in Muzaffarabad was five degree centigrade and in Islamabad and Peshawar it was recorded as eight and nine degree centigrade respectively.

The minimum temperature in Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad remained 11 degree centigrade while it was 17 degree centigrade in Karachi.

The PMD's report said Islamabad received the heaviest rain during the current spell of rains as it received 55 mm rain followed by Gari Dupatta where it was 50mm. Kotli received 44 mm rain, Kallat 44mm, Lasbela 43mm, Rawalpindi 41mm, Balakot 35 mm, Abbottabad 34 mm, Muzaffarabad 31mm, Lahore 30mm, Sargodha 26mm, Risalpur 26mm, Peshawar 24 mm, Sialkot and DI Khan 23 mm, Faisalabad 21 mm, Rahim Yar Khan 19mm, Kohat 18 mm, Jehlum 16 mm, Gwadar 14mm, Sibbi 12mm, Multan 11mm, Sakkar, Bhawalpur and Pasni 10 mm, Quetta 8mm, Jewani 7mm and Larkana 5 mm.

PUNJAB: Weather pundits have predicted more rains over Punjab during next 24 hours as most parts of the province remained in the grip of wet spell for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, APP adds.

According to regional meteorological centre, Wednesday's secondary westerly wave has moved slightly eastwards and was now over Balochistan and adjoining areas of Iran on Thursday.

The downpour recorded in different parts of the Punjab province by 5.00pm was: Lahore (city), 8mm; Lahore (Airport) 5 mm; Faisalabad and D.G. Khan, 13 mm, Multan, 12mm; Rawalpindi and R.Y. Khan, 16mm each; Mandi Bahauddin, 2mm and Khanpur, 6 mm each; Multan 5mm; Sahiwal, 3mm; Sargodha 11 mm, and Bahawalnagar, Jhelum and Sialkot, 1mm each.

SINDH: Rain in different parts of the upper Sindh for the third consecutive day on Thursday badly hit normal life and caused power suspension in various areas.

Roads and bazaars in low-lying areas were submerged by rainwater as the downpour continued in Sukkur, Shikarpur, Khairpur, Jacobabad, Thul, Kandhkot, Kashmor, Ghotki, Mirpur Mathelo, Pano Aqil, Naushahro Feroze, Dadu, Johi, Khaipur Nathan Shah, Mehar, Kotri and other cities and towns.