ISLAMABAD, Aug 23: Alarmed by the threat of flash floods in different parts of the country, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf asked the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Thursday to enhance the level of preparedness and review the stock of material needed for relief and rescue operations.
The prime minister expressed grief over the loss of lives caused by sudden heavy rains and said rivers’ banks must be reinforced and monitored for the threat of overflows.
He said all federal and provincial authorities should remain on alert, enhance coordination and exchange information regularly to be able to respond rapidly in the event of any emergency.
The prime minister ordered the Federal Flood Commission, Ministry of Water and Power and the NDMA to closely monitor the situation across the country and keep him updated.He called for a thorough checking and updating of the early warning system to be able to timely warn the people living near rivers and streams.
He also asked the NDMA to remain in close contact with the Provincial Disaster Management Authorities for coordination and assistance as and when required.
Meanwhile, NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said 127,000 cusecs of water was flowing in Chenab and a medium-level flood was expected if the flow exceeded 150,000 cusecs. He said there was no major threat from rivers Indus, Jhelum and Ravi.
However the possibility of flash floods causing destruction in some areas could not be ruled out, he said.
Answering a question about despatch of 25 truckloads of relief goods by the Punjab government for the flood-affected in Nowshera, he said the quantity was more than adequate because only five mud-houses of Afghan refuges along a stream had been damaged.
The NDMA chief said widespread thunderstorm with heavy to very heavy downpour was expected in Bahawalpur and Sahiwal divisions over 24 hours.
Scattered thunderstorm and rain with isolated heavy falls is expected in Kashmir, north and northeast Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Isolated thunderstorm and rain are expected in Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad and Sargodha divisions.
According to the Flood Forecasting Division of the Meteorological Department, Chenab at Khanki was in low flood, while all other major rivers were flowing below flood level.
A monsoon current was penetrating into Kashmir and adjoining sub-mountain areas of Punjab.
According to NDMA’s estimates of damage caused by rain over the past two days, flash floods caused 21 deaths and damaged 752 houses.
Flash flood in Nowshera caused three deaths and loss of livestock and property. In Buner, heavy rains damaged the Riyal Bridge.
Heavy rains in Mansehra caused six deaths and blocked the Garhi Habibullah-Mansehra bridge.
In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, flash flood caused landslides in Muzaffarabad, Neelum, Bagh, Mirpur, Hattian, Sudhnoti and Kotli.
AFP adds: AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed said at least 17 people had been killed and nine injured in six districts of the region since Monday.
“Some 685 houses and 125 shops have been damaged and roads washed away,” He said, adding that a request had been made to the federal government for financial help.
NDMA spokesman Irshad Bhatti said the extent of damage was being assessed.
Most of the deaths came when buildings collapsed due to the rains.
An official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said he feared the death toll in the province could rise.
“Dozens of families have suffered and their houses have been destroyed. Several people are still missing,” he said.
Weather officials were predicting heavy rain over the next three days and rescue teams were closely monitoring the situation,the NDMA spokesman said.