Karakoram Highway Blocked by Landslides in Pakistan, Stranding Thousands

Landslides block Karakoram Highway in Pakistan, stranding thousands and causing 29 deaths amid heavy rains and snowfall. Authorities warn of continued hazardous weather and urge caution for travelers.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Karakoram Highway Blocked by Landslides in Pakistan, Stranding Thousands

Karakoram Highway Blocked by Landslides in Pakistan, Stranding Thousands

The Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, has been blocked by landslides caused by heavy rain and snowfall on April 25, 2023. The landslides have stranded thousands of travelers in the region.

The weather system over the country includes a Western disturbance as a cyclonic circulation over Jammu Kashmir and adjoining Pakistan, and a cyclonic circulation over northeast Assam. Light to moderate rain and snowfall have occurred in various parts of the region, including Jammu Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Muzaffarabad, and Himachal Pradesh.

The weather activity is expected to continue in the next 24 hours, with light to moderate rain and snowfall in Arunachal Pradesh, Gilgit-Baltistan, Muzaffarabad, Ladakh, Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, as well as scattered light rain in Northeast India, Kerala, and south Tamil Nadu.

The death toll from the weather-related incidents in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, as well as Azad Kashmir, has climbed to 29, according to a report by Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The highest number of casualties occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with 21 deaths, followed by Balochistan with 5 deaths and 3 in Azad Kashmir.

The NDMA has forecast heavy rainfall in the affected regions from March 5-7, and Pakistan is considered one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, facing risks such as glacial melt, sea level rise, heatwaves, and extreme weather events.

Why this matters: The blocking of the Karakoram Highway, a vital link between Pakistan and China, has significant economic and human consequences. The stranding of thousands of travelers highlights the vulnerability of the region to extreme weather events and the need for improved disaster preparedness and response measures.

Authorities have advised tourists against traveling to the scenic northern regions due to the hazardous weather. The country has experienced a delay in winter rains this year, and the disaster has caused billions of dollars in damage, affecting around 33 million people. Similar weather conditions were last observed in 2015.

Key Takeaways

  • Karakoram Highway in Pakistan blocked by landslides, stranding thousands.
  • Heavy rain and snowfall across northern regions, causing 29 deaths.
  • Extreme weather events disrupt travel and economy, highlighting climate vulnerability.
  • Authorities warn tourists against travel to northern regions due to hazardous conditions.
  • Pakistan experiences delayed winter rains, causing billions in damage to 33 million people.