At least 35 die in surprise snowfall in Pakistan

Singapore and Islamabad, Mar 5: At least 35 people died while dozens more were injured as freezing rain and unexpected snowfall hit remote areas of Pakistan over the weekend.

Twenty-two children were among the fatalities, many of whom were crushed in landslides that buried their homes, disaster management authorities said.

The extreme weather hit Pakistan’s northern and western regions, clogging roads and damaging hundreds of houses.

Experts were surprised by the snow as Pakistan is typically humid in March.

Mushtaq Ali Shah, a former director of the country’s meteorological department, attributed the unusual conditions to climate change.

He added that a light hail storm that lasts “for a few moments” would not be as surprising, but it is unusual for that to continue for over 30 minutes.

Experts and residents are surprised by the snow as Pakistan is typically hot and humid in March. GETTY IMAGES

Hajit Shah, a resident of Kirk district in the north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said that he had experienced snow in his neighbourhood only once before.

“As far as I can remember, there was light snowfall for a few minutes about 25 or 30 years ago,” he told the BBC.

The heavy rains completely destroyed at least 150 houses and partially damaged 500 others, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the south-western Balochistan province, authorities said.

Electricity has been completely cut off in some districts for several days.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s provincial government has provided relief supplies to affected areas and announced financial assistance for the injured and the families of those who died.

Pakistan’s meteorological department said in its weekly forecast that “mainly cold and dry weather” is expected in most parts of the country for the rest of this week, although some parts of Balochistan and Kashmir should expect to see “snowfall over hills”.

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