The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

  1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Pakistan

Landslide in northwest kills 20, displaces 1,500

The death toll from the Attabad landslide in Pakistan is still unknown
(Rahat Dar/IRIN)

At least 20 people have been killed and many others are missing after a 4 January landslide dumped around 40 houses in northwestern Pakistan into a fast-flowing river.



“It was a terrifying thing to see. The houses slid down and took many people with them,” Ameer Mehdi, a local resident, told IRIN. “I pulled my children out of our house and my family fled up the crumbling hillside to escape.”



The tragedy happened in the small village of Attabad, on the banks of the Hunza river in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is bordered to the northeast by China and to the northwest by Afghanistan, while in the south it is bordered by the Pakistani-administered state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and in the southeast the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir.



“The debris of the houses has obstructed the flow of water,” said deputy commissioner Asad Zamin, warning that this could “trigger flooding downstream”. He has ordered the evacuation of around 1,500 people living in low-lying villages. “This is essential to avoid further loss of life,” he said.



“Rescue and relief activities are being carried out with the help of local volunteers,” Usman Younis, director-general of the government’s Disaster Management Authority for Gilgt-Baltistan, told IRIN. “The death toll cannot yet be confirmed.”












Mountain villagers in Pakistan live precarious lives

Rahat Dar/IRIN
Mountain villagers in Pakistan live precarious lives
http://www.irinnews.org/photo.aspx
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Landslide in northwest kills 20, displaces 1,500
Mountain villagers in Pakistan live precarious lives


Photo: Rahat Dar/IRIN
Below freezing temperatures make conditions especially hard for displaced mountain villagers

No preventative action



Locals in the Hunza administrative unit of Gilgit say the disaster could have been avoided if remedial action had been taken earlier.



“There are about 100 houses in Attabad. Many of these and other houses in this area had developed cracks after a landslide three years ago,” local resident Salim Ullah, 40, told IRIN. He said hillsides in the area had become unstable after a powerful earthquake there in 2002. Despite concerns raised by villagers, he said nothing had been done to make their lives safer.



Villagers say a number of bodies remain in the debris or have not yet been recovered from the river.



Chinese engineers to the rescue



“The rescuers lack proper equipment so people could not be saved. It was basically just people working to help each other,” villager Qasim Ali said. Rescue teams, including Chinese engineers, began work on 5 January.



Wazir Baig, speaker in the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, said medical teams were being rushed to the area.



Maryum Bibi, 30, whose infant daughter was injured in the landslide, said: “There are many injured children. The scenes at hospitals of women and children wailing are terrible.” She said her house had been badly damaged and she and her husband in Attabad did not know if they would get any help.



Temperatures in the area are currently below freezing.



The landslide also damaged a two-kilometre stretch of the Karakoram Highway, disrupting traffic and hampering access to the area.



The Gilgit-Baltistan region is controlled for administrative purposes by Pakistan and has historically formed a part of Kashmir territory.



kh/ed/cb

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
Join the discussion

Right now, we’re working with contributors on the ground in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries to tell the stories of people enduring and responding to a rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis.

We’re documenting the threats to humanitarian response in the country and providing a platform for those bearing the brunt of the invasion. Our goal is to bring you the truth at a time when disinformation is rampant. 

But while much of the world’s focus may be on Ukraine, we are continuing our reporting on myriad other humanitarian disasters – from Haiti to the Sahel to Afghanistan to Myanmar. We’ve been covering humanitarian crises for more than 25 years, and our journalism has always been free, accessible for all, and – most importantly – balanced. 

You can support our journalism from just $5 a month, and every contribution will go towards our mission. 

Support The New Humanitarian today.

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.

Join