47 killed as lightning strikes G-B village

The tragedy befell Gaise village of Diamer district, about 150 kilometres from Gilgit, killing at least 47 people.

Shahbbir Mir August 12, 2010

GILGIT: A landslide triggered by lightning struck a remote village in the Gilgit-Baltistan region late Tuesday night, killing at least 47 people and wounding another 76, mostly women and children, residents said on Wednesday.

The tragedy befell Gaise village of Diamer district, about 150 kilometres from Gilgit. Most injured are stated to be in a critical condition.

“Amid heavy downpour, there was a deafening bang. And soon after gigantic boulders came rolling down the nearby mountains, crushing everything that came their way,” a resident of the village told The Express Tribune by phone.

The Gaise village is already cut off from the rest of the country as floods have destroyed infrastructure, including roads and bridges. The deluge has also affected the local agro-based economy as fruit orchards have been destroyed and hundreds of goats and sheep swept away by the strong current.

“Dozens of villagers had gathered in Gaise village, fearing more landslides amid a fresh spell of rain on Tuesday afternoon,” Mayoor Khan, a resident of Gaise village told The Express Tribune.  “And this tragic incident happened,” he added.

Local residents rushed to the site for rescue and relief activities. “At least 35 bodies have been pulled out of the rubble so far, while a search is on for the remaining people,” said Mayoor.

Officials in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) say that the injured were being airlifted by army helicopters to Gilgit for treatment. The NDMA has put the death toll at 40.

In Gilgit, flash floods triggered by torrential rain created panic among residents late on Tuesday. Amid heavy downpour, lightning hit Jutial Nullah, triggering a flash flood that swept away several houses. Hundreds of residents came rushing out of their homes in panic.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2010.


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