LAHORE, Aug 4: A spell of widespread monsoon rains over the upper parts of the country and north-eastern Punjab stretched to Lahore on Saturday, causing flooding in a number of cities and swelling the Chenab and Jhelum rivers.
According to the flood forecasting division, the Chenab was likely to attain a level of medium to high flood within 24 hours. The Jhelum river, too, was forecast to be in low to medium flood at Mangla.
Irrigation officials in Sialkot told reporters that the water level was steadily rising in small rivers, canals and seasonal streams.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered all departments concerned to deploy relief and rescue teams in flood-prone areas.
In Gujranwala, three people died after collapse of decrepit buildings.
The Met office forecast fairly widespread rains with isolated, heavy to very heavy showers over Azad Kashmir, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sargodha and Rawalpindi for Sunday.
Scattered rain and thunderstorm, with isolated heavy showers, were forecast over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Faisalabad division.
Nevertheless, weather pundits said, the spell was losing strength after 36 hours.
A combination of a westerly wave and strong moist current triggered the first spell of widespread rains over upper regions of the country along with northern and north-eastern Punjab on Friday.
Monsoon rains had been dismally low in the country this year, raising fears of drought and shortage of water in the dams.
Riaz Khan, chief of the flood forecasting division, said many cities in north-eastern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had received heavy rains. But more rain was in store in upper catchments of Chenab in India. As a result, the river is expected to attain medium to high flood level at Marala and Khanki.
A peak hovering between 160,000 and 220,000 cusecs is expected to pass Marala. The level at Khanki is estimated to range between 140,000 and 200,000 cusecs. The danger level at these points is 400,000 cusecs.
Mr Khan said the situation was not dangerous, but there could be flooding in low-lying areas along the river any time.
He also expected swelling of Jhelum river to a low to medium flood level over the next 24 hours because of heavy rains in its lower and upper catchments comprising Azad and Indian-held Kashmir.
According to the Met office, Mangla received 103mm of rain, Lahore airport 79mm, Islamabad Zero Point 76mm, Murree 68mm, Lahore city and Sialkot Cantonment 63mm each, Jhelum 60mm, Kotli 57mm, Chakwal 53mm, Muzaffarabad and Mandi Bahauddin 47mm each, Rawlakot 32mm, Lower Dir 29mm, Cherat 23mm and Drosh 17mm.
PPI adds: The Flood Forecasting Division warned that the Chenab was likely to attain a high flood level in the small hours of Sunday at Head Marala. High flood is expected to reach Khanki by 8am on Sunday. The Chenab river was in medium flood at Qadirabad.
Low-lying areas of Gujranwala, Sialkot, Gujrat, Hafizabad and Mandi Bahauddin around the riverbed may face inundation. The Flood Warning Centre asked all authorities concerned to take precautionary measures.
The Indus River System Authority closed the Chashma-Jhelum link canal due to rising water in the Chenab. Irsa officials said water flow in the river had exceeded 160,000 cusecs and the flow from Tarbela dropped to 20,000 cusecs.