By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Over the last four days Pakistan saw the death toll from avalanches, landslides and other rain-related incidents shoot up past 100, officials and local media reported on Wednesday.
At least 69 people were killed and over 40 injured after an avalanche that swept through a village in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir late Monday evening.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday visited the injured at a military hospital in Muzaffarabad — the capital of Azad Kashmir — as rescue operations were underway for several victims missing after the incident, which occurred in the village of Surgan in the mountainous Neelam Valley, according to a statement by Azad Kashmir’s disaster agency.
Authorities feared a further rise in death toll as rescuers dug through mounds of snow in search of survivors.
Some 42 people were also injured, while over 100 houses, shops, and a mosque were damaged by the avalanche, the statement added.
The army is using helicopters to provide food and other relief items to hundreds of people trapped due to roads blocked by thick layers of snow, it added.
The latest surge in casualties has pushed up the toll from rains, landslides, and avalanches past 104, with Azad Kashmir the hardest hit.
Over 80 casualties have been reported from Azad Kashmir, as heavy rains and snowfall pounding the area have caused trouble for rescuers.
Some 15 deaths have been reported from the southwestern Balochistan province, where landslides and heavy snowfall have blocked several major highways.
The remaining casualties, mainly due to roof collapses, were reported from northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the northeastern Punjab provinces, and the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The country's army also rescued locals and tourists stranded due to snow in Balochistan.
Pakistan's northern and southwestern areas are in the grip of severe cold and unusual snowfall this year, with temperatures plummeting to minus 20 C (minus 4 F) in some areas.
State meteorologists have forecast more rains and snowfall over the next couple of days.