Saturday January 18, 2020

Heavy snowfall, avalanches and freezing temperatures are causing catastrophic conditions in historically warm and ill-equipped areas in Pakistan. Balochistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir have been particularly devastated by the extreme winter weather.

The current death toll is 92 with many more injured. This number is likely to increase over the next few days as temperatures are forecasted to stay below zero degrees.

Treacherous winter conditions

Balochistan, which is accustomed to warm, arid weather conditions, is experiencing the worst snowfall in twenty years, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).

Houses have been damaged and destroyed by the weather conditions in Balochistan.

Sixteen people have reportedly died and 11 more have been injured, although the death toll in more remote communities is currently undetermined as district authorities and emergency services struggle to reach affected areas.

Living conditions in the regions are completely unsuited to such weather conditions, causing debilitating consequences for local people. Around 350 houses are reported to be severely damaged by the weather.

In Pakistan-administered Kashmir heavy snowfall and torrential rain have caused multiple avalanches and landslides. The state Disaster Management Authority have said the death toll currently stands at 76, with the number expected to rise.

Heavy snowfall has caused a lack of access and mobility in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Islamic Relief is responding in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Balochistan

The biggest challenge to rescue and relief efforts is access as heavy snowfall has blocked roads.

Islamic Relief is one of the few international aid agencies working in the worst affected areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir. We are currently providing support to district authorities and are closely monitoring the situation.

We have also mobilised disaster response teams and started preparations with local vendors for food supplies. In the coming days we aim to meet urgent needs by providing affected people with temporary shelter, hygiene kits and safe drinking water.

In Balochistan, we have mobilised team members and volunteers to establish how we can best help. We have also sent vehicles to the worst affected areas to assist the PDMA in their rescue and relief efforts.

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