UPDATES WITH DEATH TOLL, CHANGES HEADLINE, DECK
By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - At least 43 people were killed and over 40 injured after an avalanche struck a village in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the government 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.
Deputy Commissioner Neelam valley, in a statement, confirmed that the death toll from the avalanche climbed to 43 from early morning figures of 21.
Some 42 people were also injured, while over 100 houses, shops and a mosque were damaged by the avalanche, the statement added.
The latest surge in casualties brought the toll from rains, landslides, and avalanches to 86 during the past four days, with Azad Kashmir bearing the hardest hit.
Out of total, 62 casualties were reported from Azad Kashmir as heavy rains and snowfall pounding the area caused trouble for rescuers.
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.