92 dead as extreme cold sweeps across country AJK landsliding, avalanche over 15 villages kill 59; PM orders assistance; Massive snowstorm wreaks havoc in Balochistan

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Staff Reporter

Lahore

A severe cold snap, snowfall and rain-related incidents have claimed the lives of at least 92 people and 76 were injured across Pakistan in the last three days, according to the National Disaster Management Authority’s official statement on Tuesday.
Azad Kashmir was the worst-hit area, with 62 people died and scores of others were injured in land sliding and avalanche over fifteen villages. Ten others were missing, the State Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.
In the picturesque Neelum Valley in Kashmir, heavy snowfall triggered several avalanches, including one that killed at least 19 people.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed the authorities concerned to provide humanitarian assistance in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The premier, in a tweet, said that the severe snowfalls and landslides in AJK have resulted into misery and deaths.
“I have asked the NDMA, the military and all our federal ministers to immediately provide all humanitarian assistance on an emergency footing to the affected people in AJK,” he wrote.
Officials have said that many villagers were still stranded in the avalanche-hit areas of Neelum valley in AJK following heavy rains that also triggered landslides. Many people were reported missing and feared dead as rescue efforts got underway, one of the officials said.
“Forty-nine bodies were removed from collapsed buildings in Muzaffarabad,” Ahmad Raza Qadri, the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa chief of provincial disaster management said.
“Rescue operation is under way with the help of Pakistan Army,” Qadri said, adding that due to the severe weather conditions the rescue operations were hampered.
He added the injured were shifted in Pakistan Army helicopters to nearby hospitals.
Hundreds of passengers, including women and infants, were stuck on the roads in harsh weather on Monday night as a massive snowstorm wreaked havoc in different parts of Balochistan.
Levies officials said that more than 500 passengers were stranded in Kan Mehtarzai area of Killa Saifullah district, where temperatures dipped to as low as -14°C while heavy snowfall and strong winds almost buried cars on the main National Highway.
According to the NDMA, rains in Balochistan have claimed 20 lives and 35 homes have damaged.
“Neelum Valley Road, Leepa Valley Road, Chikar-Bagh Road, Bagh-Lasdana Road, Mehmood Galli-Abbaspur Road and Tain Dhalkot Road were all closed for traffic,” he said.
The official advised people, particularly tourists, to avoid unnecessary travel in snowbound and landslide-prone areas during the prevailing weather conditions.
Major thoroughfares in Balochistan, including Bolan Road, Khanozai Road and Quetta-Chaman Road have been closed for the time being, the statement said, adding that the most snowfall recorded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was at Lowari Approach Road at a whopping 23 inches.
The officials have advised people, particularly tourists, to avoid unnecessary travel in snowbound and landslide-prone areas during the prevailing weather conditions.
The heavy snowfall in Gilgit-Baltistan have broken the 50-year record. An emergency has been declared in Hunza and Nagar after continued rain and snowfall for the last 36 hours paralysed life in the northern region.
Authorities have