PESHAWAR / BARA / GILGIT / LANDIKOTAL / JAMRUD: At least four people lost their lives in weather-related incidents on Sunday as conditions flared up across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. More rainfall and dust storms are expected in most parts of the province including Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, DI Khan, Hazara and Malakand in the next 24 hours.
Four women were swept away by flood water in Pasid Khel, Landikotal in Khyber Agency on Sunday. Tribesmen rescued three of the women; the wife of Khaistullah could not be saved. Alamgir Khan was also killed in a hailstorm in Landikotal.
In Shagai, Jamrud the wall of a house collapsed and killed a child, Nazir, on the spot. Dali Khan and Muhammad Ali, who had been standing next to the wall, sustained injuries.
Lightning struck a house in Pakha Ghulam, resulting in the death of one woman, identified as Salma.
A low-intensity dust storm struck the valley on Sunday evening followed by a spell of rain and hail, providing temporary respite from the heat.
Describing the unforeseen weather, an official at the Meteorological Department said, “These winds are blowing in circles and constantly changing.” The wind speed clocked in at 20 kilometres an hour.
The maximum temperature in the provincial capital was recorded at 36 degrees centigrade, while minimum temperature stood at 27 degrees.
Landslides block Karakoram Highway
Landslides triggered by heavy rains blocked roads in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), cutting Gilgit off from Skardu, Ghizer and Islamabad on Sunday.
Abdul Khaliq, a police official in Control Room Chilas, told The Express Tribune the Karakoram Highway was blocked near Tato. “Bulldozers have been dispatched towards the site and hopefully the highway will be cleared soon.”
Traffic also remained suspended between Gilgit-Skardu and Ghizer after heavy boulders dislodged by a fresh spell of rains obstructed roads.
The residents of Rundo, Kharmang, Shigar valleys and three villages of Skardu temporarily moved to safer places after boulders landed close to their houses.
The temperature dropped to 10 degrees Celsius in several high altitude areas. Heavy snowfall has also been reported on mountain peaks. At least 28mm of rainfall was recorded in Gilgit till the filing of this report and the spell is expected to last till Monday (today).
Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines has suspended all flights to G-B due to the potentially dangerous weather.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2013.