CHITRAL: Massive rescue and relief efforts are under way for those marooned in the raging waves of flash floods that have affected swaths of land in Chitral over the last ten days, killing 31 people and washing away hundreds of homes with no immediate break in sight.
Military helicopters are hovering over the flood-ravaged villages to rescue the affected people and drop food as local authorities are engaged in setting up make-shift shelters and food huts for those trapped.
According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, as many as 70 more houses were demolished in the flood-hit areas in Chitral on Sunday. Rains and floods have now washed away more than 300 houses, 25 mosques, bridges, educational institutions, communication equipment and several acres of crops in Chitral — Majgool, Wari Joon, Sehat, Gehat and Kasham are among the worst-hit villages.
Kalash Valley and Ganche are still disconnected from the rest of the country as repair work on damaged link roads is under way.
Commandant Chitral Scouts Col Naeem Iqbal, who is also in-charge of the rescue task force, said that the jawans of his force are working shoulder to shoulder with army personnel. So far, 300 tents have been distributed among those whose houses have been damaged, he added.
As many as nine hydel powerhouses have also been damaged while the Otol village has been completely washed away by floods. But locals have begun reconstruction of the plants in some areas.
At least 10 Mobile Utility Store outlets have been established for the affected people and permanent Utility Stores are expected to be opened within two weeks.
“All necessary grocery items will be made available in the mobile stores for the facilitation of flood affectees,” Utility Stores Corporation Managing Director Sultan Mehmood told APP.
Meanwhile, 16 tons of edibles from Utility Stores in Gilgit have been transported to Mastong and Bhoni, while more supply is in the pipeline, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the flood-hit area in Chitral soon after Eid to personally look at the devastation caused by flash floods. He instructed authorities to transport the affected people to safer places, and ordered food and medical help for them.
The premier has already announced Rs500million for the infrastructural rehabilitation of the city. He also announced writing off all agriculture loans of affected areas in addition to compensation worth half million rupees for each destroyed house.
He has further directed the National Health Emergency Preparedness Network (NHEPRN) to augment its medical response capacities in the affected areas after five more deaths were reported from the district, taking the death toll to 31.
The NDMA has already distributed 15 tons of dry ration, one ton of mineral water bottles and one million Aqua Tabs (Water Purification Tablets) in flood-hit Chitral. The ration includes flour, rice, pulses, oil, milk, tea and sugar and mineral water.
Two C130 aircraft of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) are taking part in the operation, which besides airlifting relief items to the area, have also evacuated 80 persons.
The NDMA has also made arrangements to keep communication links operative in disaster-hit areas to ensure smooth rescue and relief activities.
Under directives of the prime minister and in coordination with the army, services of Frontier Works Organisation have been offered to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government for speedy repair of road infrastructure.
On the special instructions of Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, a Crisis Control Cell has been established at Air Headquarters Islamabad to centrally monitor rescue activities being carried out by the PAF.
According to Inter Services Public Relations, flood relief and rescue operations by army troops continue in affected areas of Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan.
They have distributed 17.5 tons of ration so far and 164 affected people were rescued via two MI-17 army helicopters from Rambur, Kurggh, Birri, Bumboret and Chashma to safer places.
Participating in the large-scale relief operation, the Cabinet Division has set up an emergency cell to mitigate sufferings of the calamity-stricken people.
The division is making utmost efforts to accomplish its mandated task of swift disaster relief. For the facilitation of all federal, provincial stakeholders and prompt transmission of information, telephone and fax numbers have also been publicised.
Director General (ERC) Dr Anjum Khan: 051-9207169, 0333- 5558880
CO 6 aviation (Sqn) Lt Col. Ateeq-u-Rehman: 051- 9209258
Section officer (Plan): 051-9103471, 0331- 8549711
Section Officer R and S Amna Shuja: 0519103506, 0332-4399352
Control room: 051- 9051413, 051-9202528
Fax numbers: 051-91034712 and 051- 9103556