Muzaffarabad: Search teams found the bodies of 14 people buried by avalanches and heavy snowfall in Kashmir on Wednesday, with harsh weather hampering rescuers as they race to find any survivors, officials said.
The death toll from days of bad weather now stands at 76 in Kashmir, and at least 100 across the country, according to a statement from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Most were killed in Kashmir’s picturesque Neelum Valley, which had been hard hit by avalanches earlier in the week, said operations director of the Kashmiri disaster management authority Saeed ur Rehamn Qureshi.
He said “scores” of houses had been damaged, and put the death toll slightly higher than the national authorities, at 77 dead with 94 wounded.
One Neelum Valley resident, Lal Hussain Minhas, said he had pulled his cousin’s wife from under the snow and debris when her house was hit by an avalanche.
Now, he told AFP by telephone, he and other locals are trying to reach two of her children trapped beneath a collapsed roof.
Some 24 people were killed in heavy snowfall in other parts of the country, the NDMA said.
Forecasts suggest more harsh weather is on the way.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday visited some of the injured in a hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Authorities have shuttered schools, while several highways and roads were closed across the country’s northern mountainous areas, according to officials.
The prime minister was given a briefing by Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana regarding the heavy loss of life and property.
Khan also visited the Combined Military Hospital, Muzaffarabad and inquired after the health of the injured under treatment.
According to NDMA, the avalanches affected the villages of Surgan, Kel, Lawat, Chaknat and other places of Neelum District.
The NDMA in the latest report on Wednesday said three additional helicopters, loaded with relief items, had left for Neelum Valley.
A high-level meeting had decided to shift the affected population immediately on war-footings to the safer places, besides providing best available medical facilities to the injured.
The civil administration was directed to accelerate rescue operations in affected areas with the cooperation of Pakistan Army, while the Highway Wing was asked to deploy more machinery for road clearance to ensure smooth relief operation.