11 dead, 13 others sustained injuries in Astore avalanche

GILGIT: At least 11 persons were killed and 13 others injured when a snow avalanche occurred in Astore area of Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday, according to officials.

According to the GB Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), eight dead bodies have been retrieved from underneath the snow so far, fearing the death toll could rise as some of the injured were in critical condition.

Deputy Inspector General of Police for Diamer-Astore Division, Tufail Mir confirmed to the media that the incident occurred when 25 people of Gujjar family were travelling along with cattle from Kashmir to Astore and were hit by the avalanche.

The GB DMA said the rescue operation was being conducted by Rescue 1122, the district administration and the local community for retrieving the remaining bodies.

Mir said that rescue teams were facing challenges in reaching the affected area due to its remote location and difficult terrain.

Furthermore, communication difficulties were also impeding the officials’ efforts.

Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan expressed grief and sorrows over the loss of precious lives and directed the local authorities to launch rescue operation. He directed the secretary interior, Director General of Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA), and other officials to rush to the spot immediately.

Muhammad Riaz, a police official from the area, told AFP that residents were taking the lead in the rescue operation in the difficult-to-reach area.

Meanwhile, Diamer-Astore Division Commissioner Altamash Janjua said one body was retrieved while 11 injured were being moved to the district headquarters hospital for treatment, adding that the injured were out of danger.

Meanwhile, GB Chief Secretary Mohiuddin Wani said that rescue teams had been dispatched to the affected area in line with the instructions of the chief minister.

Meanwhile, the GBDMA said, the 13 injured had been taken to District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital Astore and 12 of them were in critical condition.

According to the report, Force Command Northern Areas, a military formation of the Pakistan Army, provide helicopter service, relief items and paramedical staff to assist with the rescue operation, but they couldn’t be flown “to the site due to bad weather conditions”.

“Necessary relief items including tents and food packs, have been provided by GBDMA/ DDMA (district disaster management authority) and line agencies.”

The report further stated that the district administration was closely monitoring the rescue operation while an emergency had been imposed in DHQ Hospital Astore, PHQ and RHQ Gilgit and Combined Military Hospital Skardu.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incident.

In a tweet, he prayed for the victims and extended condolences to the bereaved.


The premier said such incidents were increasing in Pakistan due to climate change and urged the world “to fulfil its responsibility to protect developing countries like Pakistan against the effects [of climate change].”



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