SKARDU, Jan 17: Life in this far-off district of Gilgit-Baltistan has come to a standstill due to continuous snowfall for the last two days.
The upper mountainous areas have so far received approximately three feet of snow.The unprecedented snowfall and cold wave have confined the residents to their houses in Skardu and Ghanche districts where streets and roads give a deserted look. Very few vehicles are seen plying on roads that too using chains tied to the tyres.Similar reports have also been received from other areas of the region. The road communication between Gultary, Askoli, Basho, Shila and other far-flung villages remains suspended due to the snow. In Skardu town, temperature has plunged to minus-12 degrees Celsius while in the upper mountains areas the mercury has dropped to as low as below minus- 17 to 18 degrees.
The local residents are facing hosts of problems as shortage of firewood, kerosene and gas cylinders has hit the area. The severe cold wave has also caused burst of water pipes in several places while blockade of water taps due to freezing of pipes has also become common.
According to hospital sources, the number of patients is also increasing. Most of them are stated to be children and aged people suffering from cough, pneumonia and flu.
PIA flights between Skardu and Islamabad remain suspended for the last one week due to the bad weather and people travelling on the Karakoram Highway are facing great risk of life during snowfall and rains.
Senior citizens say Baltistan has received such kind of heavy snow after 14 years. They say it would put a positive impact on agriculture during the summer season and at the same time there would be no scarcity of irrigation water which the area has been experiencing in the past. Dawn