Gilgit-Baltistan Inundated: Gilgit River bursts and enters the premises of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly

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GILGIT / MUZAFFARABAD: At least 15 people lost their lives when flash floods triggered by heavy rain battered Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir on Thursday.

Houses and bridges were damaged, farmland inundated, landslides blocked several roads and rivers continued to swell to alarming proportions. According to official sources, five girls were among eight people killed on Wednesday night in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The administration declared an emergency in Gilgit and called in troops for rescue and relief work.

Five people drowned when a bridge collapsed and their vehicle fell into a river in Baltistan, sources in the regional Disaster Management Authority told Dawn. The car was going from Skardu to Gultari.

Two girls were swept away by hill torrents in Tangir valley of Diamer district. A boy was killed in Gahkooch area of Ghizer district.

Landslides in Ghizer, Hunza-Nagar, Astore and Baltistan blocked roads linking the districts with the rest of the country.

Gilgit River burst its banks and entered the premises of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly in Chinar Bagh, the Grand Continental Hotel and Canopy Nexus lawns. The flood inundated roads leading to the assembly and about 300 houses in Basin on the outskirts of the city.

Chief Minister Mehdi Shah suspended an assembly session, visited the affected areas in Basin and ordered the departments concerned to arrange relief for people.

Torrential rains damaged the Karakoram Highway at three points between Gilgit and Hunza-Nagar and the Gilgit-Skardu road at two places.

Boat service in the Hunza lake was suspended, adding to the hardship of the people of Hunza-Gojal.

The regional capital and nearby towns have been without electricity for three days because the main channel of the local power house has been swept away. The sources said restoration of power supply would take another four days.

The Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority could not assess the damage because of disruption of the communications system.

Thousands of people have left their homes and moved to safe places. DMA’s official Mohammad Shuja said tents and rations were being provided to people who had to leave their homes.

Widespread rainfall also wreaked havoc across Azad Jammu and Kashmir, leaving at least seven people dead and many more injured.

Rivers continued to swell and landslides cut off several areas, police and residents said.

In Sudhnoti, a wagon with 18 passengers fell into a ravine near Gooin Nullah. Two people were killed and five others injured. The other people were missing and efforts were under way to find them.

In Muzaffarabad, two people drowned in the Neelum River while trying to gather wood.

Police said they had also found a teenage girl’s body along the river’s bank near Patikka village. There were also reports of two people having been killed by landslides.

The Muzaffarabad administration evacuated dozens of families living along the river. The families have been moved to educational institutions.

People have been warned not to go close to riverbanks because the water level may rise further.  All major link roads in the area have been closed.

The Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service has been suspended because of landslides on the Jhelum valley road.

Courtesy: Dawn July 30, 2010

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