UPDATES WITH DEATH TOLL, CHANGES HEADLINE, DECK
By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - At least 61 people were killed and over 53 injured after an avalanche struck a village in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, official media said on Tuesday.
Rescue operations were launched for another 12 victims who are missing after the incident, which occurred in Surgan village of the mountainous Neelam Valley on Monday evening, according to a statement by the State Disaster Management Authority of Azad Kashmir.
Over 100 houses, shops and a mosque were damaged by the avalanche, the statement added.
State-run Radio Pakistan confirmed the casualties from the avalanche.
Rains, landslides, and avalanches during the past four days have hit Azad Kashmir the hardest.
Some 15 deaths were reported from the southwestern Balochistan province, where landslides and heavy snowfall blocked several major highways.
The remaining casualties, mainly due to roof collapses, were reported from the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the northeastern Punjab provinces, as well as the Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Footage aired on local TV channel, Geo News, showed dozens of vehicles stuck due to heavy snow on a major highway that connects Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, with the port city of Karachi.
The country's army also rescued locals and tourists stranded due to snow in Balochistan.
Pakistan's northern and southwestern areas are in the grip of severe cold and unusual snowfall this year with temperatures plummeting to minus 20C (minus 4F) in some areas.
The country's Meteorological Department forecast more rains and snowfall over the next couple of days.