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21 July 2017

Avalanche-hit Shershal, in Chitral, still looks like a ghost village

Avalanche-hit Shershal, in Chitral, still looks like a ghost village

G.H.Farooqui, Chitral

CHITRAL: A month after the avalanche buried nine people alive, leaving scores of others injured and homeless, Shershal in the Karimabad valley of Chitral, still presents the look of a ghost village.

On the south of the village, a huge avalanche had piled up on the road cutting it off from the rest of the world. After the calamity, government and NGO officials had visited the area and relief items were distributed among the affected people. However, the government did not send any machinery to open the only road to the village, blocked by the avalanche.

Member of the tehsil council from Beshgram valley, Muhammad Ali Shah, said the elected members of the area arranged local laborers to remove the snow and got the road open. He said the tehsil administration had promised that wages would be paid to all those who had worked to open the road.

Mr Shah said the removal of the snow from the road was the responsibility of the local administration as it possessed machinery such as tractors etc., but the laborers opened the road manually after 20 days and should be paid for the work.

Janu Khan, a resident of the village, said that the road to the area was very dangerous and the possibility of any fatal accident cannot be ruled out. He said the Chitral Scouts had delivered some basic medicines at the village but no other government or private sector organization took any step for providing healthcare facilities to the people.

Muslima Bibi of the village told that in the winters the area remains cut-off and the road stays blocked due to snowfall. In such a situation, when someone gets ill, they are put on cots and are carried to any health center out of the village. A female patient recently died on the road when she was being taken to the hospital by local people, she added.

Shaheena Bibi said as the village had no middle or high school, the residents send their children to schools located out of the village. Until their return from schools every day, the parents remain worried about their well-being as the road is very dangerous, she added.
The area people said that besides clearing the road of boulders and avalanches, it should also be widened to avoid any fatal accidents in future. They said that the government should start middle and high schools as wells as healthcare centers in the village.

G.H.Farooqui has contributed to this story from Chitral, Pakistan
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