Landslide hits village near Gilgit

Express May 19, 2010

GILGIT: A landslide triggered by torrential rains hit a village near Gilgit on Wednesday, damaging dozens of houses.

The landslide hit Sakarkoi, situated about 20 kilometres away from Gilgit. “More than 30 houses were partially damaged in the landslide which also destroyed some crops,” said a resident of the area. He said that local government officials had visited the area and assessed damage done to crops and property. Meanwhile, officials said parts of the Karakoram Highway connecting Gilgit with rest of the country remained blocked due to the landslide that hit Kohistan a few days earlier.

The chief of the Special Support Group for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Lt General Nadeem Ahmed visited Attabad’s ‘landslide’ lake on Wednesday, and said that the losses suffered by those affected will be compensated soon. He asked people to stay calm, adding that large boats capable of bearing loads of up to 50 tons will be used to transport people across the lake. Federal minister for Kashmir Affairs Mian Manzoor Watto also visited the artificial lake, appreciating the locals’ patience and the FWO’s efforts to avert the disaster by creating a spillway. Watto said that helicopter services to help people evacuate could not be used at the moment.

Officials said that the helicopters couldn’t fly from Islamabad to Gilgit due to bad weather. Officials said, however, that the service would be resumed soon. Earlier, the government had said that at least eight helicopters would be flown out to the area to transport people stranded between Gulmit and Hunza to safer areas.

Meanwhile, Habib Bank Limited [HBL] presented a cheque worth Rs 10 million to the Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, Dr Shama Khalid, to aid those affected by the disaster. Jehan Zaib Mir, HBL’s Area Chief Gilgit-Baltistan, presented the cheque to Dr Khalid in a simple ceremony. The government has said that water collected in the lake would flow out of the area between May 26-30 through the spillway created by army engineers.

Published in th Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.

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