CHITRAL/ SWAT/ PESHAWAR/ KOHISTAN/ JAMRUD:
Glacial lake outbursts, cloudbursts and subsequent flash floods ravaged Chitral for the sixth consecutive day, leaving at least three dead. Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has doled out Rs1 million for immediate relief while Pakistan Army has also initiated rescue missions.
While other areas of the province and the tribal belt have also been affected by heavy downpours, Chitral has been in the thick of the calamity. Three women were reportedly killed in separate areas of the district; Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), however, reported two deaths. Infrastructure has been badly hit and upper areas of the district have virtually been cut off from the rest of Chitral, leaving as many as 200,000 people stranded.
Around 40 connecting bridges and more than 200 smaller bridges have been washed away. An estimated 175 houses were completely destroyed while over 200 were partially damaged. Three towns of Latkoh tehsil – Garam Chashma, Arkari and Karimabad – have been inaccessible for the last six days. The road leading to upper Chitral was destroyed near Bando Gol while Kosht Bridge on the alternative route was also washed away on Monday. Power and water supply systems have also been damaged while a scarcity of edibles is also being reported.
“These are destructive rains,” said Meteorological Office Peshawar Director Mushtaq Ali Khan. Talking to The Express Tribune, Mushtaq said the phenomenon of glacial lake outbursts is new to Chitral. A glacial lake outburst is when a dam containing a glacial lake fails. “The effects will exacerbate with time.”
PDMA Climatic Change Cell is still assessing the situation. According to PDMA, the available machinery and manpower have been deployed for temporary restoration of routes. The district administration requires heavy machinery and expertise from National Highway Authority to repair the damage. According to an ISPR statement, 50 people have been rescued while 8 tonnes of edibles has been distributed. Malakand interim commissioner Mahmood Islam Wazir told the media Chitral was “disaster-struck” and the government released Rs10 million for food aid. He said the revenue department will submit its report in this regard in three days.
At least 25 mud houses, standing crops were destroyed and cattle swept away by heavy flash floods in a remote village of Kandiya tehsil of Upper Kohistan, police said. No loss of human life was reported.
Police said the heavy downpour started Friday night and continued till the next evening in Banda Gabral. Villager Noor Wali confirmed over the phone that residences destroyed in the flood were mud houses. The Upper Kohistan DC, DPO and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Abdul Sattar Khan were unavailable for comments. Meanwhile, Lower Kohistan remained safe during the floods, said the police and locals.
Roof caves in
A girl was killed in Bakarabad in Jamrud, Khyber Agency when the roof of a house collapsed because of the heavy downpour. Locals pulled out the family in time but the girl succumbed to injuries.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.