By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: At least six people were injured on Thursday when two cars — one in Diamer valley and other in Ghizer valley — were hit by landslides triggered by heavy rains and snowfall.
As a result of the landslides, the Karakoram Highway has been blocked at several places, disrupting traffic between Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad.
“Boulders hit a car in Diamer but luckily nobody got injured,” said an official of the Rescue 1122.
In another incident, five people travelling in a car sustained wounds after they were hit by boulders in Sharote area of Ghizer valley. The injured were shifted to the district headquarter hospital Gilgit where one of the injured was stated to be in critical condition.
Meanwhile, a woman was injured in Darel valley after the roof of her house collapsed.
The landslides had been triggered by heavy rain and snow. The scenic Astore valley has been whitened by heavy snowfall on Thursday.
According to an Astore resident Atiq Rehman, more than three feet snow fell in the valley over the past 48 hours. “Life is paralysed. Let’s hope the snow and rain do not turn into floods in the coming days,” he wrote online.
Skardu town and Hunza valley also received heavy blankets of snow, bringing the temperature down to nearly zero degrees.
“Untimely rains are considered to be a result of climate change,” said Worldwide Fund for Nature chief Dr Babar Khan while referring to the unusual snowfall in April.
“Snowfall should ideally take place in October, December, and January. [Snowfall] happening now indicates a shift in snowfall patterns,” Dr Khan told The Express Tribune.
He warned that snowfall in April could turn into floods as soon as temperatures rise in May.
Scientists believe climate change in northern Pakistan has been increasing ice and snow melt in the upper part of the Indus River basin, leading to more frequent floods downstream.
Floods, GLOFs (glacial lake outburst flood), rock sliding, avalanches, land slips, and earthquakes are among the natural disasters threatening the Himalayan region of G-B as the effects of climate change slowly take root.
According to reports, G-B is prone to hydro-meteorological hazards during spring, summer and winter.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2017.