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25 die as rains batter KP, Azad Kashmir

25 die as rains batter KP, Azad Kashmir

Torrential rains, landslides and thunderstorms wreaked havoc in Azad Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas on Saturday, leaving 25 people dead.

Thirteen of the deaths occurred in KP while 12 in AJK.

As many as 90 houses and three shops were destroyed in the three regions while almost 250 houses and 20 shops partially damaged. A number of link roads were wiped out.

The Karakoram Highway remained blocked at numerous points between Chilas and Besham, marooning hundreds of commuters.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dir district, five people died in a village when their house caved in.

Relentless rain battered the Shangla district for a fourth straight day, rendering most roads impassable.

The Kurram Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), saw intermittent rains since Friday night. Six people died when a house collapsed in a village near Parachinar, the agency’s headquarters.

A falling rock struck eight houses in a village 40km northwest of Muzaffarabad, the Azad Kashmir capital. In one of the houses, a couple, along with their four children, were trapped under the rubble when a boulder flattened the structure.

Residents launched a rescue operation amid thunderstorms and recovered a four-year-old girl alive, but the five others did not survive. Their bodies were found in the afternoon.

In southern AJK’s Bagh district, a heap of mud fell on a house in Ochar Mohalla in the small hours of the morning, trapping a couple and one of their four daughters. The three others managed to escape to safety.

Rescuers recovered the young girl alive, but the couple did not survive.

Also in Bagh city, several shops were partially flooded after the water level rose dangerously in Hudda Bari Nullah. In Palla Chaudhriyan village of Haveli district, a portion of a house caved in, killing Zaibun Nisa, 26, and her 5-month-old daughter and injuring another daughter.

As many as 25 houses were damaged in Haveli district, acc­ording to officials of the dis­aster management authority, but Water and Power Minister Raja Faisal Rathore, who hails from Haveli, claimed the number was much higher.

In Poonch district, a three-room house collapsed in Chaffar village of Abbaspur sub-division, leaving a woman and her daughter dead. In a neighbouring district, four houses were damaged completely and 28 partially.

On Friday, a 10-year old girl was killed and two of her siblings were injured after being struck by lightning in Gawan village of Kotli district. Three houses were damaged completely and 14 partially in the village.

No infrastructure losses were reported from Mirpur and Bhimber districts.

Rains also triggered landslides along the inter-city roads, but almost all major arteries linking AJK with Pakistan, including the one running through Kohala and Murree, had been cleared for traffic, officials said.

More rain has been forecast for Sunday, but Monday and Tuesday are expected to be sunny.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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