01/16/2020, 09.59
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100 die in Kashmir avalanche. Girl found alive after 18 hours under the snow

Samina Bibi has a fractured leg but is in good condition. Her home was buried and she lost her brother and sister. The Neelum Valley remains isolated. Recovery and rescue operations take place via helicopters. Tomorrow a more bad weather expected.

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "I thought I would die": says Samina Bibi, a 12-year-old girl whowas buried under snow for 18 hours and rescued alive yesterday in Pakistan. The young woman is hospitalized in Muzaffarabad hospital, in Pakistani Kashmir, with dozens of other wounded. She is one of the survivors of the sudden avalanches that have hit the Neelum Valley region in the past two days. According to authorities, at least another 100 people died buried in the snow or swept away while they were at home.

For Shahnaz Bibi, Samina's mother, describes the fact that her daughter is alive as "a miracle". The woman lost another daughter and son because of the avalanche that hit their home. "We were huddled around the hearth - she says - and it came in the blink of an eye. We didn't even notice." Then he adds that he did not hear the roar that usually precedes the avalanche and that "by now we had lost hope of seeing Samina again". The girl survived despite the cold. She has a broken leg and a split lip. She remember's "shouting for help while I was trapped."

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, more bad weather is expected tomorrow which could cause further damage. The valley is currently isolated due to the detachment of snow and boulders from the mountains. Rescue operations take place only via helicopters.

Authorities report that at least 84 homes and 17 businesses are completely destroyed, and 94 other homes and a mosque partially damaged. Other areas of the country have been hit by violent rains and cold. Accidents caused by rainfall forced the closure of the main roads and highways not only in Pakistani Kashmir, but also in the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the competent authorities to provide "all humanitarian assistance possible immediately. The severe snowstorms and avalanches have caused misery and deaths”. Qamar Javed Bajwa, head of the Pakistani army, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and ordered the military to continue supporting the civil administration in the rescue and assistance operations.

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