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William and Kate meet flood survivors in Pakistan community

Bumburet, in central Chitral, was devastated by flooding caused by glacial melting in 2015.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with flood victims (Neil Hall/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with flood victims (Neil Hall/PA)

By Emma Bowden, PA, in Chitral, Pakistan

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met survivors of mass flooding caused by glacial melting, on the third day of their Pakistan tour.

The couple saw a retreating glacier in the Chitral district earlier on Wednesday, which, as well as potentially cutting off a water supply to 200 million people, threatens communities downstream with excess water flow.

William and Kate travelled to Bumburet, in central Chitral, to meet locals whose community was devastated during flooding in 2015.

Buildings and farmland in the valley were destroyed by boulders tumbling down with the flood water. Members of the local community had to sell their livestock as a result, they told the duke and duchess.

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William and Kate walked among ruins damaged by the flood (Neil Hall/PA)

The couple spoke with 28-year-old Diana – a young woman from the area who was named after William’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

Through a translator, it was explained after the duke and duchess had left that Diana’s grandmother travelled to Chitral to meet the princess during her visit in 1991.

“Princess Diana was visiting at around the time she was born, which is why she got named Diana,” the translator said.

“And now her son is William.

“Her grandmother went to meet Princess Diana in Chitral, her mum was unable to travel because she was expecting her.”

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The couple meet an emergency response team in Bumburet (Neil Hall/PA)

The young woman is part of an emergency response team of volunteers in Bumburet – now funded by UK aid – who saved lives in 2015 through community education and early warning work.

The translator said the duke and duchess’s visit was “a source of pride” for the group.

“They generally spoke about where these guys were in 2015 floods, what their reactions were, what they felt, conversations around that,” the translator said.

“They’re glad that people are learning more about this. It’s a source of pride. They can’t forget this day.”

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The duke and duchess watch a demonstration (Neil Hall/PA)

The duke asked the group, through the translator, about their experiences of the 2015 flood.

“Was it quite scary? What kind of time of day did it happen?” William said.

“Was it like a big roar in the valley?”

They said the whole valley was “shaking” when the flood occurred at night, adding that the sound was so loud it felt as if it was “bombs or ammunition” rather than flooding.

Kate asked the group about how the training was benefiting the isolated community, who responded that it was helping them feel “more in control” following the events of 2015.

Speaking to another group of local residents, Kate asked how the disaster had affected their families.

“Every sector of life, even food, water supply, road, and even electricity, were damaged,” a translator told the duchess.

“Before the flood they used to rear cattle as livestock, to support their children, for their education.

“But they had to sell their livestock because their livelihoods were destroyed.”

The couple also watched a demonstration by a local search and rescue team on how they transport casualties across a river.

Afterwards, William thanked the group and made a joke towards a team member who had been wrapped in bandages for the demonstration.

The duke said: “Good job guys – he pulled the short straw did he? Hope you get better soon!”

PA

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