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In a repeat of events in 2015, the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan are experiencing a wave of landslides, although careful preventative appears so far to have averted any loss of human life. Since January, the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region, GBAO, has endured a string of catastrophes. In the last week alone, the situation has been particularly bad in the regional center, Khorog.

“There was a lot of snow this year … And the consequences are being felt now. The mountains are loosening and because of that we are getting rocks falling. Thank God, there are no human casualties,” one Khorog resident told EurasiaNet.org.

According to residents, the authorities have issued warning all those living in high-risk zones to relocate to safer places, so as to avoid any loss of life. But few options have been offered as to where exactly people can move.

“They told us to evacuate, but the Pamirs are all mountains, where should we evacuate to? Anybody with relatives in safe places just moves there, but there is no other choice,” said another local resident, who spoke to EurasiaNet.org on condition of anonymity.

In many areas electricity supply has been patchy as power lines have been damaged by disasters. That has in turn put water-pumping stations out of commission. The Shugnan and Rushan districts have reportedly been particularly badly affected.

RFE/RL’s Tajikistan service, Radio Ozodi, has cited GBAO administration spokeswoman Nilufar Aslamshoyeva as providing an official damage tally for the past week at five partially damaged houses and five completely destroyed houses. More than 300 families have been evacuated and most gone to live with their relatives, she said.

“Students and some residents have been put up in School No. 2 in Khorog. Some places are being prepared in the Khorog cultural center,” Aslamshoyeva said.

Aslamshoyeva said that movement on some roads in the GBAO is also being restricted.

Residents complain that they are having to work unassisted in coping with the ongoing crisis.

“It is always like this. Everybody waits for it all to be over and then for the international community to come and help. In our case, it is the Agha Khan Foundation,” a Khorog resident said.

Such observations are not unfounded. In February, the Foreign Ministry officially requested international assistance in dealing with the consequences of natural disasters this year.

“Weather conditions in the fall-winter in Tajikistan were very unusual: over this period in Tajikistan, including in the mountain regions, we had rain and snowfall at around 140-170 percent relative to the norm; this was accompanied by a huge amount of natural calamities,” the ministry said in its plea for assistance.

A similar letter was sent in 2015 following devastating landslides in the Pamirs and elsewhere that authorities estimated caused around $100 million worth of damage.

Source: EurasiaNet

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