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Thousands stranded in Pakistan landslides

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Thousands of tourists have been stranded due to landslides caused by unseasonably heavy rain and snow in mountainous northeastern Pakistan.

At least 3,000 tourists, mostly Pakistanis, were stranded in the towns of Naran and Kaghan on Monday, said Abdullah Khan, a National Highway Authority official, adding that long lines of cars were on roads blocked by piles of snow.

“We have been working all night with the army engineers and the local administration, and we have now opened the routes between Naran and Kaghan and the Babusar Pass, removing landslides from the road,” he said.

One person was killed and 20 others were injured in the village of Bassar Pass in Kaghan after their gemstone mining camp collapsed under the weight of snow, police said.

Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad, also located in the country’s northeast, was drenched with a record-breaking 136 millimeters (mm) of rain on Sunday. The previous single-day record in October was 49.4 mm.

El Nino

“For October, this has been the worst rainfall we have seen for at least 30 years,” said Hazrat Mir, a senior official at Pakistan’s Meteorological Department.

Meteorologists have blamed the heavy rains on the El Nino climate event, Mir said, adding that more rain is expected this week.

El Nino, a key weather pattern, occurs when the waters of the Pacific Ocean become exceptionally warm and distort weather conditions across the globe.

In a separate Monday incident, at least four people were reported killed in northwestern Pakistan as a result of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that rocked neighboring Afghanistan, sending tremors that were felt in Pakistan and India.

A Pakistani official said more than 100 people were also injured in the northern Swat Valley.


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