Aftermath: Hunza-Nagar Road reopens after avalanche

Experts surprised by natural disaster, urge disaster management authority to play proactive role


Shabbir Mir March 23, 2016
Work to clear the road in Bakote under way after an avalanche. PHOTO: ONLINE

GILGIT:


Hunza-Nagar Road, which was partially damaged by an avalanche in Miacher Valley of Nagar, Gilgit-Baltistan, has been reopened for traffic.


Speaking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday, Hunza Deputy Commissioner Burhan Afandi said the decision was taken after the district administration cleared the mounds of snow that had accumulated on the road.

On Tuesday, an avalanche swept away parts of a road that was otherwise considered to be safe.

The catastrophe struck about 20 kilometres away from Karakoram International University (KIU) where dozens of experts were speaking at a seminar on World Water Day.

Inconvenienced

“At least 210 trees have been destroyed in Miacher and Dademal areas,” Abbas Ali, a resident told The Express Tribune. “The avalanche occurred before dawn.”  According to residents, the road on the eastern side – which was considered safe because the road on western side has been exposed to erosion and landslides in the past – was blocked.

Eid Ali, a village elder, said electricity wires passing through Miacher were also damaged by heavy rain and snow.

“As a result, power supply was disconnected to 15,000 people in six villages – Phekar, Dademal, Balakot, Ghamadas, Tashot and Hakuchar.” According to Eid, the residents asked the Public Works Department in Nagar to cooperate and help them.

“However, we have yet to receive a response from them,” he said.   He added the avalanche did not result in casualties because it happened at a time when people were at home.

Element of surprise

The avalanche surprised a large number of experts.

“An avalanche at the time of apricot blossom is both surprising and a clear sign of climate change,” said Syed Mujahid Ali Shah, a landscape ecologist who is pursuing his PhD at Karakoram International University.

According to Shah, the G-B Disaster Management Authority needs to play a proactive role to deal with these disasters triggered by climate change, including Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF).

“The melting of glaciers can [have long-term effects],” landscape ecologist said. “It can lead to food shortage and earthquakes on a national scale.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2016.

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