CHITRAL: A minor boy died early on Saturday while thousands of passengers spent the night in their vehicles at Lowari Pass area in sub-zero temperature while waiting for their turn to pass through the tunnel.
Officials confirmed the death of the two-year-old boy in a vehicle stranded due to closure of the under-construction tunnel.
An official at Asherat police post told this correspondent that the child was suffering from pneumonia and the local doctors had referred him for treatment in Peshawar. He said that the vehicle in which the family was carrying the child left Mirkhani checkpost at around 11:00pm on Friday and reached the Lowari tunnel in the morning. The distance between the two points is about 13 kilometers.
”The minor died at around 5:30am when the vehicle carrying him entered the tunnel,” said the official. He said that the matter was being investigated. The deceased child was identified as Rehanullah of Arsoon village.
Second spell of heavy rains, snowfall starts in KP, Fata
Meanwhile, the second spell of heavy rains and snow started in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas on Friday night dipping temperature below the freezing point in the region. Snow has been reported from mountainous areas of Malakand, Hazara division and Parachinar and parts of Fata.
Met office in Peshawar forecast more rains and snow in KP during the next 24 hours. An official said that the lowest temperature was recorded in Kalam, Swat valley, where mercury plunged to -10 degrees Celsius.
The Lowari Top has been closed due to heavy snowfall while the under-construction tunnel has yet to be opened for routine traffic. The management has fixed specific days for movement of vehicles through the tunnel.
Like other passengers, Fazle Rabbi Jan, a resident of Kuju village, also spent the Friday night in a vehicle near the tunnel. “I waited for 38 hours in the freezing weather to pass through the tunnel,” he said.
He said that he heard screaming and yelling of women and children from the nearby vehicles seeking help as the cold waves of Lowari Pass hit them amid heavy snowfall. He said that the problem arose as a large number of vehicles gathered on either side of the tunnel due its closure for public transport for the past six days.
Another official said that a large number of vehicles on way to Peshawar arrived at Mirkhani and were stopped there to allow the traffic coming from Dir side to pass. He said that by Friday afternoon, the waiting passengers broke the barricade at Mirkhani and left for the tunnel. “It led to the traffic congestion,” he said.
Our correspondent adds from Mansehra: A fresh spell of heavy snowfall started in upper Hazara on Saturday, forcing the residents of Kaghan valley to migrate to lower parts of division.
“We have relocated our Kaghan police station to Mahandri area of Balakot tehsil as local people migrated to lower parts of Hazara because of heavy snowfall and blockage of roads,” Kaghan police SHO Tariq Khan told mediapersons.
The heavy snowfall which started in Kaghan valley, Siren and Konsh areas of Mansehra, Kandia valley in Kohistan and Torghar after an interval of two days continued intermittently for the entire day with temperatures dipping to a freezing point.
The residents of upper parts of Kaghan valley facing food shortage following blockade of Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad road continued to migrate to Balakot, Mansehra, Abbottabad and other parts of Hazara.
The hotels have also been closed in the valley following the heavy snowfall.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2017