1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Pakistan

Torrential rains flood quake areas, wash away roads

The monsoon season in northern Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir is bringing further misery to the victims of last October’s earthquake, with many still living in inadequate, temporary dwellings. After recent days of heavy rainfall and predictions for a severe monsoon, there are fears that the rain could bring greater devastation than the snows of the past winter, which were relatively mild. In the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) town of Balakot, which was devastated by the quake, people are still camped out in tents. The unrelenting rain of the past few days has reduced open areas to giant pools of water. In some cases, the water has seeped into makeshift shelters and families perch atop damp bedding, unable to dry out clothes or other belongings. "It's just miserable. We still have no home and the rains will just get more and more forceful from now on," said Sadiqa Bibi, 30, huddled in a clumsy, makeshift shelter just outside the city of Mansehra, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Her husband, Gulab Khan, had gone to look for tin sheets to protect his family, including two children. "We have still not received the compensation money promised, so how can we build a home?" Sadiqa asked. The Pakistani government promised to pay compensation to quake victims, but many are still waiting for payments nine months on. Further up the Mansehra Valley, roads have vanished under massive landslides. Sardar Yousaf, the Mansehra district mayor confirmed to IRIN that there were blockages at at least three points along the Balakot-Naran Road. The closure of the 60 km road effectively means the Kaghan Valley has been cut off from Balakot and the rest of the country. Yousaf also said there were reports of other smaller roads being similarly affected. In parts of the isolated Allai area, and in the Neelum and Jehlum valleys of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, victims still dependent on aid from the outside world have been left virtually isolated, possibly for weeks, with military operations to reopen roads handicapped by the weather. International organisations, including the World Food Programme (WFP), have continued efforts to supply aid to quake victims now back in their villages, but this effort has been badly hampered by the rain. "Many roads are closed. We are trying to take more tin sheets up towards Allai, but the driving conditions are next to impossible," said Imran Ahmed, a volunteer with the Lahore-based Citizens Foundation, one of the organisations continuing efforts to offer relief to quake victims. Some families were able to construct their homes before the onset of the rains, but thousands others must now survive in damp, muddy conditions. Makeshift houses are often not sufficiently strong to withstand the rain, and the sense of optimism seen during the spring as reconstruction work began in many locations, has now been largely washed away.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article

Get the day’s top headlines in your inbox every morning

Starting at just $5 a month, you can become a member of The New Humanitarian and receive our premium newsletter, DAWNS Digest.

DAWNS Digest has been the trusted essential morning read for global aid and foreign policy professionals for more than 10 years.

Government, media, global governance organisations, NGOs, academics, and more subscribe to DAWNS to receive the day’s top global headlines of news and analysis in their inboxes every weekday morning.

It’s the perfect way to start your day.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian today and you’ll automatically be subscribed to DAWNS Digest – free of charge.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.