QUETTA / PESHAWAR / MUZAFFARABAD: At least 41 people have died across Pakistan as the country remains in the icy grip of a freezing cold snap with Balochistan and Azad Kashmir being the worst hit regions where heavy snow plummeted temperatures, clogged roads, snarled travel and brought life to a standstill.
Little respite is expected, at least until Tuesday, because, according to meteorologists, the “strong westerly wave”, affecting most upper and central parts of the country, is unlikely to dissipate over upper parts of the country.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority says it can confirm at least 21 deaths in weather-related incidents across Balochistan. It has declared a state of emergency in the districts of Mastung, Qila Abdullah, Kech, Ziarat, Harnai, and Pishin.
Tons of snow was dumped on Khojak Top – the mountainous pass connecting Qila Abdullah with Chaman – snarling travel. The Chaman-Quetta highway was also clogged with motorists and travellers stranded out in the open in freezing temperatures.
Paramilitary Frontier Corps has been called out to help police clear the clogged roadways. Authorities have advised against unnecessary travel because the slippery, slushy mess on the roads is extremely dangerous for drivers.
Chief Minister Jam Kamal told the media that the situation is not normal and a high alert has been sent to local officials and rescue teams in their respective regions where up to four feet of snowfall has been reported so far.
“The government is on high alert and official teams are working round the clock for rescue work. We are managing to clear the roads and reach the stranded people and those in need,” he added.
As if it wasn’t enough, water and power supplies as well as communications system – including internet service – also gave in to the inclement weather.