LAHORE: Torrential rain pounded several cities in the country, especially in southern Punjab and adjoining areas of Balochistan, on Sunday, claiming at least 20 lives, rendering hundreds of people homeless and washing away embankments of at least three canals.
Some TV channels put the number of deaths across the country at 30.
The rain-causing system that centred over lower Punjab and played havoc there has now moved on to eastern Sindh, generating fears of devastation in that region as well as in north-eastern Balochistan on Monday and Tuesday.
The Met Office said the system would start losing its strength after two days.
A couple, Rehana (35) and Latif (37), died after the roof of their house in Lahore’s Gowalmandi collapsed during a heavy shower.
According to reports pouring in from different parts of the country, four people lost their lives in Toba Tek Singh, three in Bahawalnagar, two each in Muzaffargarh and Hyderabad and one each in Khanewal and Okara.
In addition, unconfirmed reports indicated that five people lost their lives in different villages of Kamalia.
According to our correspondents, rainwater washed away embankments of canals in Rahimyar Khan, Multan and Vehari, inundating vast tracts of agricultural land and damaging crops.
The worst-hit was southern Punjab’s Khanpur town. It received 199mm of rain. Its average rainfall for the month is just 14.6mm. Rain in the town caused urban flooding and damaged crops, especially of cotton. Damage to mango plants was also reported.
The Met Office said that between 8am and 5pm Dera Ghazi Khan and Okara received 96mm of rain, Shorkot 85mm, Bahawalnagar and Sahiwal 79mm, Noorpur Thal 66mm, Toba Tek Singh 65mm, Bahawalpur city 45mm, Jhang 35mm, Rahim Yar Khan 31mm, Multan 27mm, Faisalabad 25mm, Nawabshah 24mm, Chhor 23mm, Bhakkar 20mm, Chakwal and Dera Ismail Khan 17mm, Parachinar and Mandi Bahauddin 16mm, Thatta 15mm, Joharabad and Rawalakot 14mm and Kotli 12mm. Rain was also reported in Murree, Badin, Jhang, Kakul, Lahore, Jacobabad, Garhi Dupatta, Mangla, Islamabad, Saidu Sharif, Muzaffarabad, Gujranwala, Mithi, Jhelum and Sukkur.
The Met department forecast widespread thunderstorm and rain, with scattered heavy to very heavy falls followed at times by a downpour, in Sindh, Zhob, Kalat, Sibi and Nasirabad divisions of Balochistan, and Bahawalpur, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sahiwal divisions of Punjab.
Scattered thunderstorm and rain, with isolated heavy falls, was forecast for Azad Kashmir and upper Punjab. Isolated thundershowers were forecast for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Flash flooding is likely to continue in the streams and hill torrents of Dera Ghazi Khan, Nasirabad, Sibi and Zhob.
While Hyderabad received 52mm of rain, an official of the meteorological department forecast downpour on Monday in Karachi and several other cities in Sindh.
The country’s chief weatherman, Arif Mahmood, said Saturday’s well-marked low-pressure area had entered eastern Sindh and its adjoining areas. Strong monsoon currents would continue to penetrate the central and southern parts of the country, particularly Sindh, he added.
He said heavy rains might cause urban and flash flooding in “vulnerable areas” of the province. Scattered rains and thundershowers were also expected on Tuesday.
Saleem Shahid adds from Quetta: Heavy rain killed at least three people and washed away 200 mud houses in eastern and northern Balochistan.
Qila Saifullah, the worst affected region, was cut off from rest of the province after a long portion of the main highway linking it with Quetta and other parts of the country was washed away.
According to official sources, around 100 mud houses were either destroyed or damaged in the district. Hundreds of homeless took shelter in government buildings.
Fifty trucks loaded with relief goods were sent to Qila Saifullah for the affected families.
The heavy rains also wreaked havoc in Jaffarabad district. Two people were killed and two children injured when a house collapsed in Goth Gajin Buledi of Subatpur area. At least 12 houses were washed away in Manjhipur area.
In Nasirabad district, rainwater entered many villages. “The standing crop of rice was damaged in two districts,” local people said. They complained that they were still waiting for relief supplies.
The official sources said that over 70 houses were washed away in Khuzdar district where floodwater gushed into several villages. “Hundreds of people were rendered homeless,” the sources said, adding that the administration was shifting them to safe places.
Power supply was disrupted and the road network badly affected in the rain-hit areas and a number of villages were cut off from the district headquarters.
Traffic between Quetta and Islamabad via Zhob and Dera Ismail Khan was suspended. Transport services and traffic between Loralai and Dera Ghazi Khan was suspended because of heavy flood in seasonal streams.
Heavy rains in Harnai, Zhob and other areas also caused suspension of traffic on the highways.
The rain affected normal life in Quetta as roads overflowed with sewage.
Rainwater flowing in from mountains damaged several houses in the city.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority launched rescue and relief work in the affected areas.