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Untimely showers hit north Pakistan, amid global climate concerns

Pakistan: As the world grapples with the far-reaching impacts of climate change, rain-related incidents have claimed lives and caused widespread disruption in northern Pakistan’s Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kohistan regions.

The unexpected rainfall has left thousands of residents in hilly areas facing distressing circumstances, forcing them to confront difficult choices.

Chitral, nestled in the Hindu Kush mountain range, and Kohistan, characterized by rugged landscapes in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, have become the latest casualties of extreme weather events fueled by climate change.

“So far we have reports of loss of two lives and some injuries from the area,” a senior official in Chitral told local media on Sunday. “Rain continues to lash the area for the past more than 24 hours,” said the official confirming the damages to life and infrastructure.

With the onset of Muslims religious Eid holidays, families from across Pakistan and beyond traveled to Chitral to celebrate the festive occasion amidst its stunning natural beauty. However, heavy rains have turned joyous festivities into scenes of tragedy, with landslides blocking the roads leaving many stranded in parts of the hilly area.

“It was really a bad experience to travel to this part of the country in the holidays,” said a tourist got stuck in Chitral town after landslides triggered by heavy showers blocked road to the culturally rich Kalash area, about 30 kms from the main Chitral town. “I shouldn’t have come to this area.”

The effects of climate change are starkly evident as the high-altitude areas of Chitral including Booni area received unusual snowfall in the comparatively warmer month of April. “We don’t know but that’s not what we see always,” Murad Ali, a school teacher said referring to the untimely snowfall in his area.

“The snow we normally see falling down is in the month of November and December every year,” he added.

According to experts, this underscores the shifting weather patterns that have become increasingly common worldwide. The occurrence of snowfall in traditionally warmer months serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for global action to address climate change.

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Gilgit-Baltistan, the Karakoram Highway—the lifeline connecting the region to the outside world—has been blocked by landslides in the rugged Kohistan area, triggered by the relentless rains, leaving many stranded on roads.

Passengers reaching the capital town of Gilgit narrated the ordeal they passed though as they had to cross over the blocks and boulders on foot to reach the destination.

As communities in the mountainous region are reeling from the rain-related incidents, the challenges posed by climate change continue to loom large, underscoring the need for concerted global efforts to mitigate its impacts and build resilience in vulnerable communities worldwide.

The untimely ranis and snowfall in Pakistan are a “wake-up call” to the world on the threats of climate change, experts have said.


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