At least 36 die in Pakistan as heavy winter rains collapse buildings and trigger landslides


PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Heavy rains that swept across Pakistan have left at least 36 people dead and 50 others injured, collapsed houses and triggered landslides that blocked roads, particularly in the northwest, authorities said Sunday.

Mostly women and children were among 30 people who died in the rain-related incidents in the scenic Swat Valley, the Khyber district and elsewhere in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan since Thursday night, the provincial disaster management authority said.

Five people died in southwestern Baluchistan province after floods swamped the coastal town of Gwadar, forcing authorities to use boats to evacuate people. Sarfraz Bugti, the chief minister in Baluchistan, said Sunday that 700 homes had been damaged.

Casualties and damage were also reported in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the National Disaster Management Authority said.

Authorities were sending emergency relief and heavy machinery to remove debris blocking highways, the agency added.

The country's Karakoram Highway, which links Pakistan with China, was still blocked in some places due to landslides triggered by rain and snow, according to the spokesman for the northern Gilgit Baltistan region, Faizullah Faraq. He said the snowfall was unusually heavy for this time of year.

Authorities advised tourists against traveling to the scenic north due to weather conditions. Last week, several visitors were stranded there because of heavy rains.

Pakistan this year has witnessed a delay in winter rains, which started in February instead of November. Monsoon and winter rains cause damage in Pakistan every year.

In 2022, unprecedented rainfall and flooding devastated many parts of Pakistan, killing more than 1,739 people, affecting around 33 million and displacing nearly 8 million people. The disaster also caused billions of dollars in damage.

In neighboring Afghanistan, authorities said Sunday that harsh winter weather had killed more than 5,000 livestock and destroyed 403 homes in different parts of the country in the past three days. The Taliban-run administration said it allocated $681,000 in assistance.

Mohammad Naseem Moradi, head of the national meteorological department, said similar weather conditions were last observed in 2015.