Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  

Avalanche kills 25 in northwest Pakistan

At least 25 people were killed in an avalanche while hunting precious stones in a remote mountain range in northwest Pakistan, police said yesterday.

The incident happened on Tuesday in the rugged Karakoram range in Kohistan district, local police chief Ashfaq Ahmed told AFP.

"There were around 120 people extracting gemstones when the avalanche struck, burying a number of them," Ahmed said.

"Twenty-four were killed and the rest are fine. Locals have dug all the bodies out of the snow," Ahmed said.

He said a military helicopter had been despatched to the hard-to-reach area and had so far brought back 12 bodies to Dassu, the main town in the region, where they were handed over to relatives.

Police only learned of the avalanche late Thursday, when residents of the far-flung village of Sputmali in the highlands arrived at their police post.