At least 29 people died and 26 others went missing when flash floods washed away a hamlet near the Afghan border in a remote part of Chitral district late on Saturday night, officials said. Sources said that eight soldiers were feared dead in the calamity after flash floods struck their pickets along the border. Most of the bodies were probably lying on the Afghan side of the border. Around 30 people suffered injuries.
Local commanders were in contact with their Afghan counterparts to bring bodies back to Chitral, said one senior official.
Eight soldiers feared dead after raging waters hit their pickets
Provincial Disaster Management Authority spokesman Latifur Rehman said that 29 people had been confirmed dead and 26 others had gone missing.
Residents said that cloudbursts hit Ursoon village which is adjacent to Afghanistan’s Kunar province. It triggered heavy flash flood which washed away 37 houses and damage another 48.
Usman Khan, a local resident, told Dawn that the torrents were so fast that villagers could not get time to flee to safe places. He said that a number of pickets of the army were swept away.
Violent torrents also washed away a mosque and 10 worshippers went missing. Only seven bodies have been recovered so far.
“I heard screams of the villagers and everyone was searching for his near and dear ones,” Usman said, adding that there was no sight of human settlement after the flood.
An official of Chitral police said that civilians, including Mohammad Tahir, his son and daughter; Badiur Rahman, his mother and son; Amina, wife of Usman; Subhanuddin and Imran, sons of Usman; Madani, daughter of Usman; Abdur Razaq, son of Haji Mohammad, and his son Abdul Latif; and Zakirullah, son of Azizullah; had gone missing.
Efforts were being made by the volunteers to recover bodies from the debris and the river. Army, personnel of Chitral Scouts, the civil administration and volunteers of Al Khidmat Foundation started search and rescue operations in the affected areas.
Noor Rahman, another local resident, said that there was a severe shortage of food and non-food items and survivors needed immediate relief.
The Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement that troops were busy in rescue and relief operation since last night, adding that food, tents and medical aid had been provided to affected people.
Lama helicopter of the army made five sorties between Chitral and Ursoon and evacuated two critically wounded people. Search operation for missing persons was in progress, said the statement.
Special assistant to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told Dawn in Peshawar that the provincial government had received one helicopter for the relief operation. He said that bad weather was hampering the operation.
He said that an emergency had been declared in local hospitals, while the provincial government had released Rs15 million for the relief activities. He said that food rations for 100 families had been sent to Ursoon.
The floodwater emanating from Ursoon village crossed the Chitral River at Naghar village near Drosh, as a result of which a number of houses and the garden of Nagar fort were submerged. The volume of water is increasing with each passing moment making the situation horrendous.
Our correspondent adds from Bannu: Windstorm followed by heavy rains caused devastation in Dera Ismail Khan and Bannu on Saturday night. The storm blew up roofs and boundary walls of several houses and government properties in the city. No loss of life was reported from any part of the city.
Heavy rains and hailstorm damaged crops in Dera Ismail Khan.