FOCUS responds immediately to areas
affected by Avalanche, Floods and Landslides in Gilgit-Baltistan
Chitral Times Report
Gilgit: Heavy rain and snow fall that continued for 48 hours
has brought life to a standstill in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and
Chitral. It triggered a series of snow avalanches, unusual flash
floods and landslides damaging 600 houses with thousands of other
homes reporting leaks in the roof.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an agency of the
Khan Development Network (AKDN) immediately responded to the
crisis. It has deployed its Disaster Assessment Response Team
(DART) to conduct rapid assessments working with local communities.
Over a 100 affected households were immediately provided tents and
blankets from community stockpiles setup by FOCUS Pakistan for
emergencies. Water purification sachets have been provided to over
50 households in Oshikhandas and Sherqilla with support from the
Aga Khan Planning and Building Service, Pakistan (AKPBS,P).
Access continues to be a major challenge, as roads are blocked in
multiple locations including the connection between Islamabad and
Gilgit and the Gilgit-China section on the Karakoram Highway. Both
entrances of the newly constructed Attabad tunnel are blocked due
to the debris flow and snow avalanche.
According to Nusrat Nasab, Executive Officer FOCUS Pakistan, “the
seriously injured are having difficulties in reaching tertiary care
units in different parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. We have deployed the
AKDN helicopter to urgently move these individuals and bring
doctors and medicine to the area to treat less critical. Over 50
people including patients, students and stranded persons have been
airlifted from Aliabad, Gulmit, Gupis and the remotest valleys of
Chipursan and Shimshal. However, any delays in opening the blocked
roads will result in a major crisis across Gilgit-Baltistan. April
is wetter than normal and heavier rainfall is expected”.
During the second week of March, FOCUS Pakistan had issued a
red-alert advising people living in areas at risk of avalanches to
move to safer areas. As a result, about 200 households were
evacuated before the onset of the disaster, which was triggered by
torrential rains and snow fall.
“FOCUS has been reminding us of the potential risks of avalanches
and landslides,” confirms Masood Ali, a local weather informer from
Shimshal village in the extreme north of Hunza District bordering
with China. “Following the advisory, we evacuated about three
households in March anticipating the risk of avalanches. Two days
after the evacuation, a massive snow avalanche hit the houses.
Fortunately there was no loss of life due to early evacuations.”
The alerts are being provided to people based on the local weather
data gathered through 50 local weather posts established by FOCUS
Pakistan. In addition, FOCUS Pakistan maintains its stockpiles of
emergency response material at 133 locations in Gilgit-Baltistan