Bridge in Kohistan swept away; two minors die in Bajaur district roof collapse; child drowns in Orakzai district flood

Floods caused by the recent torrential rains have wreaked havoc in upper parts of the country, with a bridge on Uchar nullah swept away, cutting off Kohistan district from Gilgit-Baltistan, the National Highway Authority (NHA) said on Friday.

In an advisory, the authority added that Karakoram Highway had been blocked for all types of traffic because of the flash flood at Uchar nullah.

It further said the NHA and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) teams had been mobilised at the site for restoration of traffic.

"Travellers planning to move ahead of Dasu from and to Gilgit and other areas, are requested to use alternate routes via Kaghan and Babusar Pass for both ways of traffic," the NHA added.

The bridge was installed on the Uchar nullah near Karakoram Highway in Upper Kohistan's Dasu area.

Climate Change Minister Sherry tweeted that the compact bridge had been washed off in the flood surge.

She added that Karakoram Highway was blocked on both sides right now. "No buses are allowed for now on Babusar road. All deputy commissioners of the area need to remain vigilant. The bridge was not resilient," the minister wrote.

In Tehsil Warmamond in Bajaur district, two minor sisters on Friday were buried alive when the mud roof of their house caved in due to heavy downpour, while a nine-year old child drowned in a flood in Orakzai district.

According to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), 12-year-old Amina and seven-year-old Haleema were sleeping at their house when the roof of their room caved in during the wee hours of the day.

The residents reached the scene and started a rescue and recovery operation but the children were found dead in the debris.

The intermittent heavy downpour in the district also caused damage to crops and in various areas while rainwater inundated roads and streets.

Nine-year old Salma Bibi, a resident of village Bezot, district Lower Orakzai, drowned in flood water. Her body was recovered by rescue officials.

Separately, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal presided over a meeting to review relief operations in the flood-hit areas.

The minister chaired the meeting on Islamabad through a video link from Istanbul.

Iqbal directed all agencies concerned to speed up a joint survey to assess the damage caused by the floods.

He added that the existing survey data should be re-examined and the process of financial assistance to the victims should be ensured.

The minister noted that after relief operations and resettlement, the most important step was the reconstruction of houses and infrastructure.

He stressed the importance of not compromising in the phase of providing relief to the people.

During the relief operations, fair distribution should be ensured among the victims, he added.

Observing that Balochistan was worst affected by the rains and floods, he said according to the instructions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, special attention should be given to the victims of the province.

The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira, Balochistan chief secretary as well as officials of the NDMA; housing, environment and health ministries; and Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, Higher Education Commission and Benazir Income Support Programme.

In another development, the Pakistan Railways has suspended traffic at Narowal-Sialkot section as a big portion of the rail track was washed away because of the flood near Qila Ahmadabad.

According to the Railways sources on Friday, 9-Up Allama Iqbal Express (Sialkot-bound) has been suspended at the Narowal Railway Station. Now the train will run from Narowal when the railway line is repaired. The Pakistan Railways has offered its apologies to passengers for the inconvenience.