GB Calamity | Region Cut Off, Stranded Airlifted, "GO KHATAK GO" Protests Underway for Numbers Feared Dead
GILGIT/KOHISTAN: As authorities flew out dozens of stranded tourists, students and patients from Hunza and Chilas in Gilgit-Baltistan on Thursday, people in Kohistan protested the government’s indifference towards those buried under a landslide in Othar Nala. The landslide occurred on Monday, with at least 25 feared buried.
The evacuation from G-B took place amid fears more rains could lash the region in coming days. Officials said between 10 and 15 days would be required to restore traffic. The evacuation was done through army helicopters and C-130 cargo aircraft, which had earlier brought supplies to the region after a weather advisory predicted more rains and landslides over the next three days.
“About 93 stranded people, including 12 foreigners, have been flown into Gilgit from Hunza,” Gilgit Deputy Commissioner Hamza Salik told reporters on Thursday. “They (foreigners) will be transported to Islamabad [today].”
According to another official, 21 students stranded in Chilas were airlifted to Pattan in Kohistan.
Recent rains damaged KKH, the only route connecting G-B with rest of the country, at more than 50 places from Gojal to Besham, Shangla district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This resulted in the shortage of food items and fuel as several areas in the region were hosting stranded travellers.
Reports suggested many such passengers in Kohistan, and Diamer, Nagar and Hunza in G-B would not be able to get food as shops had run out of supplies. Locals were crossing over huge boulders on foot, risking their lives to reach important destinations.
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Komila, Kohistan on Thursday against Chief Minister Pervez Khattak for not visiting Othar Nala despite being in Pattan.
“Go Khattak go” resounded on the streets of Komila during the procession. Addressing the protestors, Maulana Waliullah criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government for its poor response to the calamity-hit people of Kohistan.
Sikandar announced Kohistanis would not accept any assistance from the provincial government anymore and would retrieve the bodies
Ubaidur Rehman another tribal leader said, “Khattak visited Pattan for cheap popularity which he proved after he flew back to Peshawar” when Othar Nala was only at a distance of 70 kilometres.
They announced over 1,000 villagers would reach Othar Nala and try and recover the bodies from the heavy debris.
When approached for comments Deputy Commissioner Kohistan Raja Fazal-e-Khaliq was not available. DPO Ali Rehmat avoided commenting on why Khattak did not visit Othar Nala.
He added some points along KKH had been cleared by FWO but another landslide on Thursday near Chochang village had blocked access again.
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