An avalanche in Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO, which lies in the remote mountainous east of the country, claimed at least 13 lives on February 15.
Residents of the region’s capital, Khorog, told Eurasianet that as of February 16 the dead are known to include one three-year-old child, two schoolchildren and five university students who were waiting for the bus. At least 36 buildings, including the premises of the local Afghan consulate, were damaged as well. At least nine people were pulled from the rubble.
The collapse of power lines left Khorog without electricity for around eight hours.
Avalanche risk has led to the closure of several key roads, including the one linking the capital, Dushanbe, to Tajikistan’s second city, Khujand.
In an usual development, President Emomali Rahmon, who characteristically does not acknowledge deadly disasters, extended his condolences to the families of the dead. The GBAO has been at the center of waves of security sweeps designed to firm up the central government’s control over the region — the policy has generated much discontent.
At least 29 people were killed and more than 100 local leaders and their followers were arrested following unrest that started in May.
Rahmon’s eagerness to make a public show of expressing sympathy with GBAO residents on this occasion may constitute an attempt at bridge-building.