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111 dead in Pak avalanches; girl buried in snow found alive after 18 hours

Even as the death toll in the massive avalanches and snow-related incidents in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir rose to 111, a 12-year-old girl was found alive by rescue officials on Wednesday after being buried under snow for 18 hours in PoK. Samina Bibi recalled screaming and shouting for help as she lay trapped in a room under the snow, according to Al Jazeera.

“I thought I would die there,” she said from a hospital bed in Muzaffarabad, where dozens of injured, including her, were receiving treatment after being airlifted out of the avalanche area.

Meanwhile, Samina’s mother, Shahnaz Bibi, who lost a son and another daughter, the rescue was nothing short of a miracle. After being pulled out of the snow earlier, Shahnaz said she and her brother, Irshad Ahmad, had given up hope of finding Samina alive.

Samina said she could not sleep while she waited to be rescued. Her leg was fractured and blood was oozing from her mouth.

“We didn’t hear a rumble,” Shahnaz said, recalling the moments before the avalanche buried the three-floor house where she and her family were sheltering with others from the village. At least 18 of them died.

Samina and her family were huddled around a fire when the avalanche hit. “It happened in the blink of an eye,” Shahnaz said.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said the total number of deaths in snow-hit areas across the country over the past couple of days was now 111. The army has been deployed to step up rescue efforts and to provide humanitarian aid to those hit by the harsh weather conditions in the country.

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s (PoK) Neelum valley was worst hit as avalanches continued to damage hundreds of building in the area, killing 73 people, while 31 people died in Balochistan and at least 7 in Sialkot and other districts of Punjab over the past few days, Geo News reported.

According to preliminary assessments, 52 houses have been destroyed and 82 damaged in the Neelum Valley region, Neelum Deputy Commissioner Raja Mahmood Shahid was quoted as saying in the report.

The Met Office has issued a warning highlighting the risk of closure of inter-city roads due to heavy snowfall and rains in the districts of Swat, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Murree, Galyat, Neelum, Bagh, Haveli, Rawalakot, Astore, Hunza and Skardu.

Key highways connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan were also blocked due to heavy snow, forcing officials to suspend transportation of essential goods into Afghanistan, the Express Tribune reported.

Source: Business Standard