Pakistan

CHITRAL – At least seven workers were killed and seven others sustained injuries when an avalanche hit a workshop of the Korean company, Sambu, near the north portal of the Lowari Tunnel yesterday.

Lowari Tunnel connects the districts of Dir and Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Officials said the technicians had started their daily work of repairing the machinery being used in the construction of the tunnel when the avalanche hit the workshop. Rescue activities were launched promptly and seven bodies and the same number of injured were retrieved from the rubble.

The dead were identified as Rahmat Zada, Jalal, Rahmat Ghazi, Haji Iftikhar, Kamran, Asif and Nadeem. The injured included Altaf Hussain, Zamurud Hussain, Qaiser Hussain, Shakil, Gul Alam, Bahadur Shah and Mujeeb. Two of the injured were in critical condition and were shifted to Peshawar for treatment.

Efforts were also being made to pull the remaining workers out alive despite the risk of more avalanches amidst heavy rain and snowfall.

Chitral District Nazim Maghfirat Shah expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives and said the administration should have taken steps for avoiding such disasters. He asked the government to announce compensation for the victims of the incident as they were doing a tough job and working in difficult terrain.

At least 13 people were killed and 20 homes destroyed by avalanches and heavy rain which struck the region earlier this month – while the death toll in neighbouring Afghanistan rose to almost 200.

Severe weather hits Pakistan every year, with avalanches in winter and flash floods in summer.