No breakthrough made as search and rescue efforts continue in avalanche hit area of Chitral

Chitral/Islamabad: Search and rescue efforts continued in the Karimabad valley of the Lotkoh Tehsil of Chitral two days after a massive avalanche buried as many as nine people, including seven students. No progress was made on the second day of the search. The rescue workers, local volunteers, officials of Chitral Scouts, volunteers of FOCUS Pakistan, FIF and other organizations are digging in the huge masses of snow to find traces of the people buried below, but hopes of finding anyone alive are fading. Thousands of tons of snow has filled the valley, as visible in photographs released today. Sniffer dogs have been brought to the area to help with the search operations.

A group of people, including at least eight students, were buried on Saturday evening when a massive avalanche hit a narrow valley through which the road they had taken to return to their houses after appearing in 10th grade exam was passing. The entire group of people traveling together was buried by the avalanche, save for a student who couldn’t speak for several hours due to the shock and angst.

The students, according to local accounts, were in a hurry to reach their homes to be able to see Pakistan play against India in the World T20 Cup Cricket Tournament, local sources have told Bashir Hussain Azad, a journalist based in Chitral. They were asked by the locals in Susum to not travel during the night, but they insisted to leave, because a weekend was also ahead.

According to recent reports, the news of the avalanche disaster reached the Susum valley after 5-6 hours. A student who escaped unhurt was so shocked by the magnitude of the disaster and the sudden loss of his friends and companions that he couldn’t tell the villagers what exactly had happened.

The search operations could start on Sunday morning, more than 12 hours after the disaster had taken place.

Gloom and despair has overtaken the entire district, which is prone to all kinds of hazards. 2015 was a disastrous year for Chitral, as it was ravaged first by floods, and then shaken hard by an earthquake.

Several high officials visited the disaster site, to observe the search and rescue operations, and to express sympathies with the families who have lost their young teenaged members.

Chief Minister of KPK province has expressed condolences and announced to pay 300,000 rupees for each life lost, as monetary compensation to support the families through the hard times.

Nevertheless, the locals are asking hard hitting questions about safety of the students who even in this era have to travel for miles to reach their schools, or appear in exams.

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