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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
No hope of survivors in northern Pakistan avalanche: officials
by Staff Writers
Chitral, Pakistan (AFP) March 21, 2016


Nepal quake reconstruction chief faces graft investigation
Kathmandu (AFP) March 21, 2016 - The head of Nepal's earthquake reconstruction authority is being investigated following complaints of corruption and other irregularities, an anti-graft official said Monday.

Sushil Gyewali was in December appointed chief of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), charged with spending $4.1 billion in funds raised after the quake which killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed more than half a million homes last April.

Spokesman Krishna Hari Pushkar said the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority had received complaints about Gyewali's handling of decisions in his previous job as executive director of the Town Development Fund, as well as in his current role.

"Several complaints have been filed against him that allege he is colluding with NGOs and INGOs (international non-governmental organisations) in a way that is against our system and procedure," said Pushkar.

He said there were also concerns at the slow pace of reconstruction and relief efforts.

Gyewali, who is accompanying Nepal's prime minister on an official visit to China, was not immediately available for comment. His spokesman also declined to comment.

The government vowed last June to set up the NRA to oversee rebuilding and ensure that all aid went to victims, as part of its bid to attract funding from sceptical foreign donors.

But political bickering over leadership of the body held up its formation until December.

With tens of thousands of the April 25 quake victims still living in tents, the government has been strongly criticised for delays in disbursing aid pledged by donors.

Corruption is rife throughout Nepal, ranked 126th out of 175 countries in watchdog Transparency International's global corruption perception index.

Chances of survival were fading for seven people feared buried under an avalanche three days ago in a remote northern Pakistani village, authorities said Monday.

The disaster struck on Saturday afternoon near the village of Susom, some 40 kilometres (24 miles) north of the town of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A massive avalanche fell on a group of school children returning home after exams. Two bodies -- -- those of a school boy and a local man -- were pulled from the snow on Sunday, while rescuers have not been able to find seven pupils who remain missing.

"A pupil and a passer's by bodies have been found so far and we have now no hope of finding any survivor among the seven people who are still buried under the avalanche," local government official Mazhar Ali Shah told AFP.

Officials on Sunday feared that up to 11 people were hit by the landslide, but later changed the figure to nine.

An AFP reporter who reached the spot said that local people were digging in the snow with spades and shovels to find the victims.

He said that snow was three-feet deep in the area and people had to walk for hours to reach the site of the avalanche and that no machinery could get there to help dig for survivors.

Local police official Mohammad Zafar said pupils were returning to their village Karimabad after finishing high school exams when the incident took place on Saturday.

Nobody was aware of the accident till the evening when worried parents started searching for their children who had not returned home after going for their exams, Zafar said.

Heavy rains have killed at least 121 people, injured 124 and damaged 852 houses since March 9 across Pakistan, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It said landslides and collapsed roofs caused most of the fatalities.

Nepal quake reconstruction chief faces graft investigation
Kathmandu (AFP) March 21, 2016 - The head of Nepal's earthquake reconstruction authority is being investigated following complaints of corruption and other irregularities, an anti-graft official said Monday.

Sushil Gyewali was in December appointed chief of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), charged with spending $4.1 billion in funds raised after the quake which killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed more than half a million homes last April.

Spokesman Krishna Hari Pushkar said the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority had received complaints about Gyewali's handling of decisions in his previous job as executive director of the Town Development Fund, as well as in his current role.

"Several complaints have been filed against him that allege he is colluding with NGOs and INGOs (international non-governmental organisations) in a way that is against our system and procedure," said Pushkar.

He said there were also concerns at the slow pace of reconstruction and relief efforts.

Gyewali, who is accompanying Nepal's prime minister on an official visit to China, was not immediately available for comment. His spokesman also declined to comment.

The government vowed last June to set up the NRA to oversee rebuilding and ensure that all aid went to victims, as part of its bid to attract funding from sceptical foreign donors.

But political bickering over leadership of the body held up its formation until December.

With tens of thousands of the April 25 quake victims still living in tents, the government has been strongly criticised for delays in disbursing aid pledged by donors.

Corruption is rife throughout Nepal, ranked 126th out of 175 countries in watchdog Transparency International's global corruption perception index.

No hope of survivors in northern Pakistan avalanche: officials
Chitral, Pakistan (AFP) March 21, 2016 - Chances of survival were fading for seven people feared buried under an avalanche three days ago in a remote northern Pakistani village, authorities said Monday.

The disaster struck on Saturday afternoon near the village of Susom, some 40 kilometres (24 miles) north of the town of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A massive avalanche fell on a group of school children returning home after exams. Two bodies -- -- those of a school boy and a local man -- were pulled from the snow on Sunday, while rescuers have not been able to find seven pupils who remain missing.

"A pupil and a passer's by bodies have been found so far and we have now no hope of finding any survivor among the seven people who are still buried under the avalanche," local government official Mazhar Ali Shah told AFP.

Officials on Sunday feared that up to 11 people were hit by the landslide, but later changed the figure to nine.

An AFP reporter who reached the spot said that local people were digging in the snow with spades and shovels to find the victims.

He said that snow was three-feet deep in the area and people had to walk for hours to reach the site of the avalanche and that no machinery could get there to help dig for survivors.

Local police official Mohammad Zafar said pupils were returning to their village Karimabad after finishing high school exams when the incident took place on Saturday.

Nobody was aware of the accident till the evening when worried parents started searching for their children who had not returned home after going for their exams, Zafar said.

Heavy rains have killed at least 121 people, injured 124 and damaged 852 houses since March 9 across Pakistan, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It said landslides and collapsed roofs caused most of the fatalities.


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