Voice of the Mountain People

Archive for January 5th, 2010

Hunza landslide death toll rises to 13

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

By Zulfiqar Ali Khan

HUNZA, Jan 5: Death toll in the Monday’s disaster at Atabad rose to 13.

About 30 people are still missing. Rescue work was resumed early in the morning on Tuesday.

National Disaster management Chairman Gen (retd) Farooq Ahmed, Force Commander Gilgit-Baltistan Maj Gen Bajwa, Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah, Chief Secretary Babaer Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad and other officials reached the affected area.

Thirteen bodies mostly women and children were laid to rest at Aliabad, main town of Huinza on Tuesday amid tears. The bodies were recovered from the rubble and efforts are on to rescue other people still under the rubble, by the local volunteers and rescue workers who are racing against time to rescue others.

The massive landslide, caused by shearing off a portion of the mountain, hit Atabad, a small hamlet, about twenty kilometres from main Hunza, damaging over 40 houses, a community centre, a school, cattle pens, trees and orchards, causing panic in Hunza-Nagar.

The boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza River, forming a lake that would threaten the low-lying villages and submerge many villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide has damaged over two kilometres stretch of the Karakuram Highway, disrupting all kinds of communication links and traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families have been evacuated from the village to safer places.

A thick cloud of dust blanketed the whole Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

People of Atabad village had noticed shearing off the rocks, with cracks developing fast on it in 1994 when a high magnitude of earthquake jolted the village.  Later the local authorities declared the area dangerous without making any alternative arrangement of relocation and rehabilitation of the inhabitants. The continuous geological movement had developed huge gullies in the village and surrounding mountains. The people from the dangerous zone of the village were evacuated some days ago.

The residents had conveyed to the authorities concerned about the danger.

Experts had suggested rehabilitation of the residents to some alternative area, as living in such a hazard-prone environment could result in disaster anytime.

But the local administration not responded to the concerns of the people. Had they taken the issue seriously the loss of life could have been avoided, a volunteer working with a civil society organisation said requesting not to be named.

The residents had boycotted November 2009 elections for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly as no candidate – either ruling party or from other parties – had taken their problem seriously.

A delegation from the village had met Governor Qamar Zaman Kaira at Karimabad Hunza to inform him about the danger. He had assured them of help but no concrete steps were taken.

Posted in Economy, Environment, GECA, Gilgit-Baltistan, Government, Hunza-Gojal, Natural Resources, Society, Water | 1 Comment »

President orders quick relief work in Hunza village

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Jan 5: President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed grief and shock over the Hunza disaster which caused loss of lives and destruction to property.
In a statement here on Tuesday, President Zardari directed the local authorities to undertake immediate search, rescue and relief operations to help the affected families.
He also sought a report from the government of Gilgit-Baltistan regarding the measures taken and the provision of shelter, food and medical help for the displaced people.
The president directed the local authorities to provide best possible medical care to the injured. He also asked the local authorities to take note of the blockade of the river and adopt immediate measures to ensure that it does not cause any damage to other villages.
CDA: A team from the emergency and disaster management of Capital Development Authority was also dispatched to Hunza on Tuesday. According to an official announcement, the team comprising 26 rescuers, group and team leaders from the urban search and rescue component of EDM directorate has been sent to the area along with sophisticated equipment, listening and detecting devices in a helicopter.
The CDA chairman, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi has directed the next batch of rescuers to remain on standby in case of further requirement.
The crews of EDM directorate have been trained by the experts in Finland.
PRCS: Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said it has started providing relief items to the victims of the landslide, said a press release.
It said relief items including food, tents, blankets and stoves were being provided to the affected families at Karimabad.
PRCS Vice-Chairperson Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar held a meeting with the society’s Gilgit-Baltistan chapter chief Mir Baz Khan and assured full support for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the victims and directed the officials to expedite the rescue and relief operation.
Ms Bakhtiar said assistance would be extended to the far-flung areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. She said PRCS national headquarters was at standby to help the victims and provide them support as per requirements.
Meanwhile, noted mountaineer Nazir Sabir expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the Hunza village.
In a statement issued here, he urged the government to mobilise all resources and manpower to provide quick relief to the disaster-hit people.__Courtesy Dawn

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Landslide hits Hunza village; 10 killed

Posted by Gilgit Tribune on January 5, 2010


By Zulfiqar Ali Khan
Tuesday, 05 Jan, 2010

UNZA, Jan 4: At least 10 people, mostly women and children, were killed and a number of others injured when a massive

landslide caused by shearing off a portion of mountain devastated a village here on Monday.

According to rescue workers and witnesses, about 40 people were still trapped in the rubble of mud and rocks. Ten bodies have been found and rescue workers are facing difficulties in rescuing others because of lack of equipment.

The landslide hit the village of Atabad, about 20km from Hunza. It destroyed over 40 houses, a community centre, a school and a number of cattle pens, trees and orchards.

Boulders and debris rolling down the slope blocked the water flow in Hunza river and formed a lake threatening a number of low-lying villages in Gojal, upper Hunza.

The landslide damaged a two-kilometre stretch of the Karakoram Highway, disrupting traffic between Gojal and Hunza. About 170 families were evacuated. A thick cloud of dust engulfed Hunza, Nagar and Gojal valleys.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of lives. He asked the authorities concerned to provide best medical facilities to the injured.

Teams of doctors and rescue workers have been dispatched to Hunza.

Speaker Wazir Baig and member Mutabiat Shah of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly rushed to Hunza to oversee the rescue and search operation.

The speaker told Dawn that the affected people would be given compensation after an assessment of the damage. Villagers would be evacuated to a safe place, he added.

The people of Atabad had noticed shearing off rocks, with cracks developing fast on it when a high magnitude earthquake jolted the village in 1994.

Our Correspondent adds from Gilgit: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah has announced Rs2 million for the families of those killed in the landslide. A spokesman said that compensation for the losses of properties would be announced after an assessment

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