Saturday, July 31, 2010

Extensive damage by flood in Gilgit Baltistan

River view road near GBLA Hall under flood water (Photo by PT)
GILGIT:  At least 8 people lost their lives and 1500 were rendered homeless when flash floods triggered by heavy rain battered Gilgit-Baltistan  on Thursday.

Houses and bridges were damaged, farmland inundated, landslides blocked several roads and rivers continued to swell to alarming proportions.

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.

Water entered the Gilgit-Baltistan legislative assembly building, press club, and several other premises situated in the low lying areas after River Gilgit overflowed its banks. Aga Khan hospital, situated in Chinar Bagh was avacuated and patients were shifted to other hospitals.

In Baseen – about 20 kilometres from Gilgit – the rising level of River Gilgit flooded nearly 30 houses. Home secretary Gilgit-Baltistan Asif Lodhi said that so far 50 per cent of the affected people have been provided tents and food while efforts were on the way for the rescue of others. He added that so far around 250 houses have been flooded.

Chief Minister Mehdi Shah visited the affected areas and issued directives to the administration to make arrangements for the affectees. Communication with the rest of the country was put to a halt as landslides blocked roads from Gilgit to Skardu, Ghizer, Astore and Islamabad, according to sources.

Officials said that efforts were to repair the damaged portion of the hydel powers were being made, adding that power will be restored by Friday.

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

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

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.

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