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Unexpected Snowfall in Pakistan: 35 Dead, Hundreds of Houses Damaged

Over the weekend, Pakistan experienced unexpected and severe weather conditions, with freezing rain and snowfall causing significant casualties and injuries in remote areas. At least 35 people lost their lives, including 22 children who were tragically crushed in landslides that engulfed their homes, according to disaster management authorities.

The extreme weather impacted northern and western regions, leading to road closures and substantial damage to hundreds of houses. Notably, the occurrence of snow in March, a typically humid month for Pakistan, surprised experts. Mushtaq Ali Shah, a former director of the country’s meteorological department, attributed these unusual conditions to climate change. He emphasized that while a brief hailstorm is not uncommon, it is rare for such conditions to persist for over 30 minutes.

Getty Images Girls walk along a snow laden street in Kalam on March 4, 2024
Experts and residents are surprised by the snow as Pakistan is typically hot and humid in March

Residents in the Kirk district of the north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, like Hajit Shah, expressed the rarity of snowfall in their neighborhood, recalling an occurrence only once in the past 25 or 30 years. The recent heavy rains and unexpected snowfall wreaked havoc, resulting in the complete destruction of at least 150 houses and partial damage to 500 others, primarily in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.

The severe weather conditions led to prolonged power outages in certain districts. In response, the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has dispatched relief supplies to the affected areas and announced financial assistance for the injured and the families of the deceased. The meteorological department’s weekly forecast indicates “mainly cold and dry weather” for most parts of the country, with expectations of “snowfall over hills” in certain areas of Balochistan and Kashmir for the remainder of the week.


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