Muzaffarabad, Jan 16, 2020: A 12-year-old girl was found alive on Tuesday after being buried in snow for 18 hours when an avalanche in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir engulfed the family house, her mother said on Wednesday.
Samina Bibi recalled shouting for help as she lay trapped in a room under the snow.
The death toll from Monday’s avalanches in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Neelum Valley, rose to 74, according to Pakistani officials, as rescuers continued to recover bodies.
Samina was one of the lucky ones. "I thought I would die there," she told news agency Reuters from a hospital bed in Muzaffarabad, where she and dozens of other injured people were receiving treatment after being airlifted out of the avalanche-hit area.
For Samina’s mother, Shahnaz Bibi, who lost a son and another daughter, the rescue was nothing short of a miracle. After being pulled out of the snow earlier, Shahnaz said she and her brother, Irshad Ahmad, had given up hope of finding Samina alive.
Samina said she could not sleep while she waited to be rescued. Her leg was fractured and blood was oozing from her mouth.
For the family, the disaster happened very fast. "We didn’t hear a rumble," Shahnaz said, recalling the moments before the avalanche buried the three-storey house where she and her family were sheltering with others from the village. At least 18 of them died.
Samina and her family were huddled round a fire when the avalanche hit. "It happened in the blink of an eye," said Shahnaz.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said that the total number of deaths over the last couple of days in snow-hit areas across Pakistan-occupied Kashmir had jumped to 100. More heavy snowfall is expected in the region from Friday.