Gabryal flash flood: Rescue workers find 25 more bodies as death toll rises to 41

Army helicopters, NGOs slowly make their way to remote villages.

Muhammad Sadaqat August 27, 2011


Rescue workers found 25 more bodies in Kohistan district on Friday as the death toll from the Gabryal flash floods increased to 41.

The toll is feared to further climb to 69 as approximately 28 more villagers are still missing.

Twelve injured people, who were rescued by locals on Thursday, were given first aid by a medical team, comprising members of Kohistan district’s health department and other NGOs, that managed to reach this remote area of Hazara division. Their condition is stated to be stable.

Two Army helicopters participated in the rescue and relief operation and made over five sorties dropping tents, blankets, medicines and food items for affected villagers, Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai told The Express Tribune. “Since the affected area is so remote, I have requested the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and military authorities for assistance,” he said.

Umerzai said that two hours of non-stop torrential rain caused floodings in three villages – Rishaow, Bari and Siglo – in Gabryal union council. The villages have a total of 100 or 120 houses and the floodswept away 35 or 40 of them, Umerzai said.

“Survivors have been supplied with food supplies and cooking utensils, medicines, blankets and tents,” Umerzai said.

According to Kohistan’s District Coordination Officer Imtiaz Shah, the district administration has dispatched 45 bags of wheat flour, kitchen items, 45 bags of mixed food (comprising tea, sugar, dry milk, oil, dates and other edible items), 150 blankets and 80 cartons of medicine for affected areas.

When asked about what caused the flash flood, Shah said it was yet to be determined.

Villagers believe that lightening and cloud burst might have caused a glacier at the hilltop to melt due to which water gushed down into the villages.

“At around 10pm on Wednesday night, I heard the sound of thunder and soon after, our village was inundated,” Jalal Khan, a resident of village Siglo who escaped the disaster unhurt, told reporters.

Commandant of the Frontier Corps Northern Areas Maj-Gen Ikramul Haq also visited the affected area and supervised the rescue and relief operation.

Kohistan suffered heavy monsoon spells in July last year as well, which killed 179 people and displaced another 36,215.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th,  2011.

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