Massive landslide buries loaded trucks, kills three near Pak-Afghan border - GulfToday

Massive landslide buries loaded trucks, kills three near Pak-Afghan border


Security officials and onlookers gather near damaged trucks following a landslide near Pakistan's Torkham border town on Tuesday. AFP

Three transporters lost their lives while eight more sustained injuries when dozens of Afghanistan-bound trucks were hit by massive landslide near the Torkham border, officials said on Wednesday.

Official sources at Torkham said they feared some more drivers were still trapped in their vehicles, which were buried under huge rock sand tonnes of mud at the site of the incident.

They said the loaded vehicles parked on the export lane on the border were hit by the landslide at around 2am when some drivers and cleaners were asleep inside their vehicles while some were busy preparing Sehri.

Police official Ishrat Khan said dozens of firefighters and rescuers were trying to save truck drivers and other people hit by the landslide near the Afghan border. Officials said the landslide was triggered by lightning amid rain.

Landslide-Torkham Rescue workers and people gather after trucks loaded with supplies were trapped in a landslide in Torkham. Reuters

Rescuers feared more people could be trapped dead or alive beneath the rubble, and deployed sniffer dogs at the scene as workers cautiously used heavy earth-moving equipment to shift debris.

The landslide struck Torkham border post, the busiest and most important transit point for trade between the two countries, as more than 120 trucks were waiting to cross.

Torkham-Terminal-trucks-landslide Rescue workers and volunteers search survivors following a landslide near Torkham. AP

"We have recovered two bodies and have taken eight injured to hospital," Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for the Rescue 1122 emergency service, told AFP.
He said it was unclear how many people may be beneath the rubble, but some survivors had reported getting phone calls from colleagues.

"They are not receiving calls any more... maybe the mobile battery of those trapped inside is dead, or maybe there is another reason," Faizi told AFP.
Fires broke out following the landslide, the brunt of which struck about 120 metres from the main border crossing.

Torkham-terminal-collapsed A general view shows vehicles along a road next to a mountainside following a landslide near Torkham. AFP

Drivers and their assistants were cooking pre-dawn meals on gas stoves ahead of a day of fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

"The fire is under control now. The rescue operation is ongoing with the help of excavators and other heavy machinery," Faizi added.

The cause of the landslide was not immediately clear, but one official said heavy machinery had been in use for months on an expansion project in the hills surrounding the border post.

Torrential overnight rain may also have contributed, said the official, Ali Raza. Authorities have closed the border crossing to trucks and other vehicles, but it remains open for foot traffic, Raza said.

Torkham border crossing is a key trade route between Pakistan and Afghanistan and a location where landslides often block highways, especially in mountainous areas. It is also a major trade route between Pakistan and Central Asian states.



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