Landslides leave thousands stranded in northern Pakistan

by Reuters
Monday, 26 October 2015 07:12 GMT

In this file 2005 photo, a Pakistani earthquake survivor carries a child on his back on Kaghan-Balakot road as he travels toward a relief camp in Balakot, about 270 km (167 miles) northwest of Islamabad. REUTERS/Ibrar Tanoli

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Meteorologists have blamed the heavy rains on the El Niño weather pattern, and more rain is expected

By Jibran Ahmad and Asad Hashim

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Landslides in mountainous northern Pakistan caused by unseasonably heavy rain and snow have left thousands of tourists stranded, officials said on Monday, while record October rainfall hit the capital, Islamabad.

The northern Kaghan, Swat and Neelum valleys were the worst hit.

"For October, this has been the worst rainfall we have seen for at least 30 years," said Hazrat Mir, a senior official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

In Kaghan Valley, home to about 100,000 people, one person was killed and 20 injured when their gemstone mining camp in the village of Baisar collapsed under the weight of snow, police said.

At least 3,000 tourists, mostly Pakistanis, were stranded in the town of Naran, also in Kaghan, said Abdullah Khan, a National Highway Authority official.

"We have been working all night with the army engineers and the local administration, and we have now opened the routes between Naran and Kaghan and the Babusar Pass, removing landslides from the road," he said.

Islamabad, in northern Punjab province, on Sunday received 136 mm (5.35 inches) of rain, compared to the previous single-day record in October of 49.4 mm (1.94 inches).

Meteorologists have blamed the heavy rains on the El Niño weather pattern, and more rain is expected this week, Mir said. (Editing by Nick Macfie)

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