Heavy snow claims 34 lives, hundreds of vehicles stranded in Balochistan

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PIA plane trapped at Quetta airport; Landslides block KKH.

Our Correspondents

Quetta/Peshawar

Due to heavy snow fall in the parts of Balochistan, 34 people lost their lives, while more than 200 cars and passenger coaches are stranded in Killa Saifullah district’s Kan Mehtarzai area. Further an aircraft of PIA trapped on Monday after landing amid heavy snowfall due to non-availability of de-icing equipment at Quetta airport.
Deputy Commissioner Killa Saifullah said that it is hoped that rescue personnel will reach the stranded people in a few hours, adding that public transport has been stopped from going into snow-affected areas.
Passenger coaches, with women and children, are stranded in Mehtarzai area, with reports of passengers running out of vehicle fuel and food supplies. Life has come to a standstill in parts of Balochistan due to harsh snowfall as the temperature reached -14C.
Heavy rain and snowfall paralysed life in seven districts of Balochistan as the Provincial Disaster Management Authority declared the imposition of emergency in Mastung, Qila Abdullah, Kech, Ziarat, Harnai, and Pishin districts.
Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan visited the PDMA office and was briefed on the weather situation across the province. “A high alert had been issued to the commissioners and deputy commissioners,” the chief minister told the media after attending the briefing.
The Jeddah-Quetta PIA plane was trapped after the heavy snowfall started when it landed at the airport. The airport administration has found no solution to clear the runway as the necessary chemicals and equipment are not available to the technical staff.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said that the technical staff need de-icing equipment to clear the aircraft and its engine which were not available to the Quetta airport. The provision of the de-icing facility is the responsibility of
Civil Aviation Authority to void creating disturbance to the passengers due to delay in flight schedules and damages to the aircraft.
The spokesperson added that the passengers were provided accommodation at hotel and the administration is also providing the people necessary information.
He added that many domestic flights from Quetta airports have been postponed due to the current weather conditions. The flights include PK-325 and 326 Islamabad-Quetta-Islamabad, PK-310 and 311 from Karachi-Quetta-Karachi and PK-8363 from Quetta-Karachi.
The flights will be resumed after betterment of weather and the passengers were advised to contact PIA call centres for getting further information, he said.
At least four people were killed and four others sustained wounds in two separate rain related incidents in Jampur and Sukkur on Monday. A roof of a dilapidated house situated in Dajil, Jampur collapsed due to heavy rain, resulting in death of three on the spot.
The bodies and injured were moved to nearby medical facility by the rescue teams.
Life at in many areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan has come to a standstill as Siberian winds wreaked havoc whereas various cities in Punjab also witnessed torrential downpour. Five members of a family also suffocated to death as a result of gas leak, whereas an Avalanche in Neelum Valley buried four students out of which one died and three were later rescued.
Quetta-Ziarat National Highway was closed for traffic due to the second spell of snowfall. More than two feet of snow has fallen as of now. The Quetta-Karachi highway is also closed at Mastung due to snowfall, causing hundreds of travellers to get stuck.
Vehicles are left stranded at the Khojak top near Chaman after heavy snow. Amid freezing temperatures, gas pressure reduction and load-shedding added to the miseries of the people in parts of the province. Rain and snowfall continued in parts of K-P including Peshawar, Hazara and Malakand divisions, Kohat, Orakzai and Chitral. All routes to Chitral including Lowari Tunnel were blocked whereas electricity supply has also been disrupted. The local administration has warned residents to avoid unnecessary travel and to stay alert. Heavy rain caused a house roof to collapse in Rajanpur leaving three dead and five others injured. The Pakistan Meteorological Department has issued warnings of flash floods and heavy snowfall for some district of Balochistan which may cause closure of roads.