Thousands stuck as Karakoram Highway closed for third day due to heavy rain and landslides

The Karakoram Highway (KKH), a crucial roadway linking Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in Pakistan, has been severely impacted by heavy rains, triggering landslides and leaving thousands of travelers stranded. This disruption has created significant challenges for both locals and visitors.

The landslides have caused blockages at approximately 50 points along the KKH, including critical areas like Shetan Pari, Lotar, Hurban Nullah, Thor Nullah, and parts of GB’s Diamer district. The National Highway Authority (NHA) is working with contractor companies to clear these blockades, aiming to restore access for all types of vehicular traffic by Wednesday morning. However, the extensive blockages and difficult terrain present formidable challenges to these clearance efforts.

The adverse weather, characterized by three days of disruptive rain and snowfall, has compounded the situation, leading to power outages and vehicle damage. This adds to the plight of those stranded along the KKH. Moreover, the suspension of flights between Islamabad, Skardu, and Gilgit, along with disruptions to mobile and internet connectivity in many areas, further isolates the region and impedes communication and relief efforts.

The GB government’s issuance of an alert forecasting heavy rainfall and snow from Feb 19 to 27 underscores the ongoing threat posed by adverse weather conditions. This emphasizes the importance of proactive measures to mitigate the impact of potential disruptions and ensure the safety of residents and travelers in affected areas.

The situation along the Karakoram Highway highlights the vulnerability of infrastructure and communities in mountainous regions to extreme weather events. Effective coordination among government agencies, contractor companies, and local communities is essential in addressing immediate challenges posed by landslides and implementing long-term measures to enhance resilience and preparedness for future hazards.

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