5 April 2016
Heavy rainfall brings extensive landsliding to Kohistan and other parts of northern Pakistan
In the last few days another belt of exceptional rainfall has swept across northern Pakistan, including Kohistan, triggering large numbers of landslides as well as avalanches and floods. The most destructive incident appears to have occurred at Othar Nala village in Kandia, Kohistan district, where a large landslide destroyed a number of houses. It has been widely reported that 14 bodies have been recovered from the ruins, together with 13 injured people. Reports vary on the number still missing, but 24 people seems to be the most likely number. If so, with a probable final toll of 38 people, this is a significant event.
Elsewhere across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa there are multiple reports of landslides, as well as house collapses and floods. One report for example is of two girls being killed in a flash flood or debris flow Hattian Bala, 50 km from Muzaffarabad. Hattian Bala was the site of the largest landslide, a giant rock avalanche, triggered by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. The landslide dam subsequently breached in a large rainfall event.
The most graphic illustration of the impact of these rains lies on the Pamir Times website, which has an excellent photo report of landslides on the new section of road built with Chinese assistance to bypass the Attabad landslide in Hunza. These tunnels were opened last year. These two images show the magnitude of the problems:
Whilst the damage from the landslide in the second image is less obvious than in the first, I have concerns about the material that this tunnel is built upon and is crossing. Is this an old landslide?
There are reports of many other landslides blocking the Karakoram Highway.