KHYBER, (MANEND NEWS): Three transporters lost their lives while five more sustained injuries when over 15 Afghanistan-bound container-mounted trailers were hit by a landslide near the Torkham border early on Tuesday.
Official sources at Torkham said they feared some more drivers were still trapped in their vehicles, which were buried under huge rocks and tons of mud at the site of the incident.
They said the loaded vehicles parked on the export lane on the border were hit by the landslide at around 2am when some drivers and cleaners were asleep inside their vehicles while some were busy preparing Sehri.
The reason for the landslide could not be immediately known. Some locals said the National Logistic Cell (NLC) had only a few days back conducted controlled blasting of the site for construction of the customs terminal. NLC officials could not be approached for their comments about the incident.
They said that some vehicles also caught fire due to an explosion in a gas cylinder the drivers used for cooking.
Local sources said two excavators from the Afghan side of the border were first to reach the spot early morning and immediately started removing the debris from the trapped vehicles.
Later in the day, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-Gen Hasan Azhar Hayat and Khyber Deputy Commissioner Abdul Nasir reached the spot and supervised the rescue operation.
The army’s urban, search and rescue teams along with Rescue 1122, local police, staff of the district administration and hundreds of local volunteers participated in the rescue operation that continued till the filing of this report in the evening.
Army engineering corps provided several dumper vehicles, special search cameras, rescue radars, steel cutters, life locators and other related earth-moving and excavation-related machinery for the rescue operation.
Accusing fingers were also pointed at the NLC for its failure to timely provide any required machinery for the rescue operation while they were busy in the construction of the much talked about custom terminal for the last eight years.
A notification issued from the Khyber House later in the day also confirmed the death of three transporters, all Afghan nationals and injuries to three more.
The statement explained heavy machinery was at work at the site of the incident to rescue those who were trapped inside the buried vehicles. It added that the rescue operation would continue till the recovery of all the trapped persons, vehicles and clearance of the route.