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14 die as snowfall, rain wreak havoc in Balochistan

Quetta, Jan 13 (IANS) Heavy snowfall and rain have claimed at least 14 lives in different parts of Balochistan and suspended road and air links of the Pakistans largest province with rest of the world, as the unusually extreme weather system entered the country.

With a strong westerly wave affecting most parts of the country, snowfall is also expected in Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, besides heavy showers have been forecast for Islamabad as well as upper and central Punjab from Monday till Tuesday morning, Dawn news quoted the Met Department as saying.

Met officials said heavy snowfall in Quetta had already broken the 20-year record.

“In Qilla Saifullah, the Met Office recorded three- to four-foot snow, which was (more than) double the usual one- to 1.5-foot snow,” said Chief Meteo¬≠rologist Azmat Hayat Khan.

An aircraft that had arrived from Saudi Arabia with passengers on Saturday night could not return, as Quetta airport runway remained covered with heavy snow, sources said.

Traffic was suspended on the Quetta-Chaman highway as the Khozak-Pass linking Pakistan with Afghanistan also received heavy snowfall, bringing a halt to the Afghan transit trade as hundreds of trucks and other goods vehicles remained standard on both sides of the border.

Around two dozen passengers in four vehicles were trapped in the far-flung area of Kaachar close to Pakistan-Iran border.

Meanwhile, emergency has been declared in Mastung, Qila Abdullah, Kech, Ziarat, Harnai, and Pishin districts of Balochistan due to heavy snow, said The News International in a report.

While addressing the media here, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said a high alert had been issued to the commissioners and deputy commissioners.

–IANS

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