Cut off from the outside world

As the world looks to the disaster in the south, another crisis is unfolding.

    Most of Pakistan is a disaster zone these days and while the crisis is still unfolding in the south where the cumulative force of the waters from the River Indus are inundating village after village in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.

    However, another crisis is brewing more than 1,000km to the north.

    Almost two million people are cut off from the outside world, with entire chunks of the Karakorum highway badly damaged.

    In some cases, sections of several kilometres have been wiped out and major bridges swept away.

    That is not all, the heavy torrential downpours, the worst in living memory, have caused major landslides wiping out some roadside towns.

    The only way to move out of this calamity stricken zone is through footbridges built by local volunteers, and people are taking their lives into their own hands as they cross the rapids.

    It is almost three weeks since disaster struck  this region
    Nearly two million people were cutoff and all road traffic now made impossible for movement of essential supplies into the north.

    If this lifeline is not restored peoples lives will be at risk.

    Essentials were already running out, and people were experiencing shortages of wheat flour, the main staple, and medicine.

    Just before this disaster, the military had moved steel bridges to the north because of the threat of a lake burst in Attabad in Gojal Valley in upper Hunza.

    Those bridges would now come handy in restoring links.

    For weeks, Pakistani and US army helicopters waited in Abbotabad to fly in relief to areas in Kohistan.

    But heavy clouds prevented the helicopters from flying into the remote and mountainous area and they were redeployed to the south where the emergency was still unfolding.

    Twenty-two days after the devstation in the north, many people were still waiting for relief.

    Pakistani army helicopters took the the US pilots on a reconnaissance to see where they could make possible landing strips inside the narrow valleys and get the relief in where it is needed most.
    Some locals suggested that the army should employ the local people to remove the debris and clear the roads.

    Many people were still seen sitting idle and in a state of shock but others were helping establish cable cars to cross major obstacles.

    They are helping with the movement of wheat and other essentials such as fuel and flour, but it would take a massive effort to reopen the road links and let the convoys of fuel and essentials in before another long winter in the north.


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