Pakistan avalanche kills at least 11 people Jarastyle travel

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An avalanche on Shounter Pass in Northern Pakistan has killed at least 11 people. Four women and a four-year-old boy are among them, police say.  

Pakistan avalanche kills at least 11 people Jarastyle travel

Search and rescue teams of the Pakistan Army with the support of the civil administration at the site area where they retrieved eight people from the avalanche. Photograph: ForumStrategic/Twitter

Senior police officer Ziarat Ali told The Associated Press news agency that on Saturday morning, approximately 35 members of a nomadic tribe were crossing a mountainous area in Northern Pakistan. They were taking their herds of goats on foot from the Kel area of Azad Kashmir to Astore when the snow advanced down the mountain toward them.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted that the disaster had ‘caused great grief and loss of precious lives. Due to the effects of climate change, such incidents are increasing in Pakistan. The world has to fulfil its responsibilities to protect developing countries like Pakistan from these harmful effects.’

Pakistan avalanche kills at least 11 people Jarastyle travel

A snowy landscape in the Diamer District, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Photograph: Getty Images

The avalanche occurred near the Shounter Pass that bridges the Gilgit-Baltistan region with Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Glacial melting has resulted in 3 044 glacial lakes in Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, says the United Nations. This has recently caused frequent avalanches and snow landslides in Gilgit-Baltistan. 

The country has also experienced monsoon rains in its northern mountains and is among the top 10 countries most likely to face natural disasters due to rising temperatures.

These severe weather conditions, Shounter Pass’ remote location and unforgiving terrain have made ongoing rescue operations challenging. Troops have been helping, and two military helicopters were scrambled. According to witnesses, locals have joined the effort to rescue people trapped under the snow.  

The victims’ bodies have been recovered. Those injured, including a child, are being cared for at a local hospital and are reported to be in critical condition.

Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Khalid Khurshid declared a state of emergency in the hospitals of the main cities in the area, Gilgit and Skardu.

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