Relief efforts continue in Balochistan amid biting cold – Pakistan

QUETTA: Members of law-enforcement agencies try to pull out a bus stranded on a snow-covered road on Wednesday after heavy snowfall here.—PPI

QUETTA: Mercury dropped to minus 11 degrees Centigrade in different cities and towns of Balochistan, including Quetta, as the entire region is in the grip of Siberian winds for the past four days.

The Met Office said that Kalat and Ziarat experienced the coldest night on Tuesday-Wednesday as the temperature fell to minus 13 degrees in these district headquarters, while the minimum temperature was minus 11 and 12 degrees in Kan-Mehtarzai and Muslim Bagh, respectively.

Vast areas of northern and central Balochistan were frozen due to Siberian winds.

Officials of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and security forces, who are conducting relief and rescue operation in the areas which have received five to six feet of snow, said that harsh weather hampered relief operations.

“Toba Achakzai, Toba Kakrai, Murgha Faqeerzai and other far-flung areas are still under heavy snow and rescue teams are trying to reach there for launching an operation to recover the people still stranded in these areas,” Noor Zaman, a local journalist, told Dawn over telephone.

Communication and Works Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal said that the traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been resumed after opening Kohzak pass on Quetta-Chaman Highway.

“We have opened all provincial roads, which had been affected by heavy snow,” he said.

The PDMA officials said that around 150 mud houses had collapsed and 341 were partially damaged in snowfall and rain in Balochistan.

They said that Makran and Chagai districts had received heavy rains causing damage to mud houses.

“Walls of around 350 mud houses were damaged in Turbat, Gwadar, Mand and Panjgur,” a senior official said, adding that a small dam was washed away in the Mand area close to Pak-Iran border causing damage to several dozen houses in the area. A bridge in Kech on the national highway was damaged.

The officials said that the relief operation continued in all affected areas of Balochistan and Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani had handed over his helicopter for the relief operation.

“We are using the helicopter for dropping relief goods in far-flung areas,” a senior PDMA official said, adding that the Frontier Corps, Levies and army were also helping in relief and rescue operation.

“Ration and tents were sent to Lakpass, Shabaan and Kan Mehtarzai,” the chief minister said.

“Newly donated ambulances shall be sent to affected areas,” he added.

“Our teams are distributing ration and relief goods. The deputy commissioners concerned have been asked to prepare comprehensive reports about damages,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2020

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