Parts of KP, GB closed after heavy downpours

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ISLAMABAD: A large number of travellers were left stranded on Friday morning after the main Karakoram Highway and connected roads in parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were cut off after a spell of heavy rainfall.

Heavy monsoon rains, coupled with strong winds, lashed across areas such as Bisham, Shangla, Kohistan, Battagram, and Torghar. The rains caused streams and rivers to overflow, bringing rubble along with them. This led to blockades and road closures.

The Karakoram Highway and other link roads were blocked in parts of GB’s Hazara and Malakand divisions as well as in KP’s Battagram and Torghar districts due to heavy downpours.

Bisham Station House Officer(SHO) Bakht Zahir told Dawn.com that the Karakoram Highway was obstructed at over 30 points, and passengers were stuck on both tracks of the highway, particularly tourists travelling for GB and other northern areas.

Zahid Khan, a passenger stuck in the Shang River side told Dawn.com that he was travelling to Bisham from Mansehra with his family and got stranded there. He added that he was waiting for the road to open for traffic.

Khan said they took the risk to cross over some rubble resulting in damage to their vehicle, which would have to be towed away.

Ghulam Abbas, the deputy director for the National Highway Authority for Shangla and Kohistan, confirmed the road blockades as well and said their contractor Frontier Works Organisation was clearing the road for “one-side traffic initially”.

He said the Karakoram Highway was blocked at various identified locations — locations numbered 211, 213, 215, 267 and 283 — and that the rest were minor obstructions from where the rubble would be removed once it has been from the major blockades.

Abbas further said the road between Dandai and Kohistan of Shangla and Kohistan areas was blocked adding that most slides were shut off in the Bisham tehsil of Shangla.

Abdullah, a local resident of Landai Jai Bisham, said their link road was completely cut off at several points, suspending road communication to their area.

He said the residents there wanted the authorities to clear the road as soon as possible.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department had predicted windstorms, thunderstorms and rain in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Haripur, Battagram, Torghar, Kohistan, Shangla, Chitral, Lower and Upper Dir, Swat, Buner, Malakand, Bajaur, Mohmand, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Charsadda, Peshawar, Khyber, Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Orakzai, Kurram, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Dera Ismail Khan, and North and South Waziristan districts.

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