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Snow, rain bring gloom to Pakistan quake zone | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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PIEER CHANASI, Pakistan (Reuters) -Pakistan”s earthquake zone got it”s first harsh winter weather on Sunday, with rain and snow bringing relief operations to a halt, and gloom to survivors.

Up to 8 inches of snow fell in some high-altitude areas and up to 1.2 inches (32 mm) of rain drenched some lower areas, the Meteorological Department said.

&#34Flights are off for today,&#34 said a spokesman for the U.N. World Food Programme in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official said their air and road operations had also been called off.

The October 8 earthquake killed more than 73,000 people, most of them in the Pakistani Himalayas.

A race against time is on to ensure hundreds of thousands of homeless survivors are given adequate shelter and enough food to see them through a bitter winter.

If not, disease could sweep through cold, poorly nourished survivors, causing a second wave of death, aid officials say.

Snow was falling in the village of Pieer Chanasi on Sunday afternoon and residents were grim.

&#34We”re in trouble. Our children and animals are also in trouble,&#34 said Tanvir Naqvi. &#34The temperature is dropping and a tent is not enough.&#34

Fresh landslides, apparently triggered by the rain, disrupted traffic on the road up to the village, which was under about 2 inches of snow.

The authorities hope people in high-altitude settlements will come down to tent camps on valley floors for the winter, but most people have chosen to stick it out at their ruined homes.

Aid officials are making plans in case bad weather sends a flood of people down into unsanitary and over-crowded tent camps in Muzaffarabad and other towns.

The ICRC official said good weather up to now meant aid deliveries were slightly ahead of schedule, but prolonged bad weather would be a worry.

&#34We have been very lucky — or the survivors have — that we”ve been able to fly for a month without interruption,&#34 said Pauli Immonen, in charge of ICRC air operations.

A weather official said 8 inches of snow had fallen in the Naran area and 7 in the Kaghan Valley, both in North West Frontier Province. An inch fell in the hill resort of Murree to the north of Islamabad.

The temperature in Muzaffarabad dropped to a low of four degrees Celsius (39 Fahrenheit) on Saturday night.