Death toll rises to at least 100 after Pakistan snow, avalanches

Local residents search for the avalanche victims in the snow in Neelum Valley, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on January 15, 2020. – Avalanches, flooding and harsh winter weather killed more than 130 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent days, leaving others stranded by heavy snowfall, officials said on January 14. (Photo by STR / AFP)

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AFP) — Search teams found the bodies of 14 people buried by avalanches and heavy snowfall in Pakistani-administered Kashmir 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.

© Agence France-Presse