RAWALPINDI, Feb 27: Heavy showers, hailstorm, accompanied by gusty winds, lashed the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, causing power outages and flooding in low-lying areas.
Black clouds blanketed the twin cities, making the day look like night, while the wind blew away temporary shelters of mud houses, water-tanks and kiosks.
The Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) said it recorded a maximum gust of 120 km/hour from the south to west in the morning. PMD also predicted scattered thunder and rain to continue for the next 12 hours.
The rain and wind — combined onslaught — brought down temperatures from 15 degrees Celsius minimum to 9 degrees Celsius minimum. Total 36mm rain was recorded in Rawalpindi and 43mm in Islamabad.
It was a bad day for motorists as they had to steer through hailstorm, making driving a nightmare and causing tightly-knit traffic jams at several places.
Neighbourhoods presented a bruised and battered look as the wind went on a pugilist-spree — blowing water tanks, satellite dishes, tin rooftops on mud houses. The neighbourhoods most affected were in Sector I-11, Tarnol, Faizabad, Dhoke Ratta, Dhoke Hassu, Fauji Colony, Pirwadhai, Dhoke Chiraghdin, Nadeem Colony and areas along Nullah Leh.
Power supply also remained affected. In many areas, power remained suspended causing a lot of problems to the residents. Officials said that Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) had suspended the electricity in some areas due to gusty winds, to avoid any untoward situation.
There were reports of traffic jams at Khayaban-i-Suhrawardi, Nazimuddin Road, Attaturk Avenue, F-7, I-9, I-10 and some other parts of the capital city.
The heavy rain raised the water level at Leh Nullah. The Nullah rose to 12 feet at Gowalmandi and 13 feet at Katarian Bridge on I. J. Principal Road.
As a result, the low lying areas were flooded with rain water. People in the area spent a restless day, fearing flood in the nullah but the water receded in the evening. However, inner parts of the city, people were not so lucky, who spent the entire day draining rain water from their houses, especially at Iqbal Road, College Road, Gowalmandi, Mohanpura, Ratta, Ghazni Road and others.
The rain water also entered the basement of Holy Family Hospital (HFH) and newly constructed Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC).
The sewerage water at HFH and RIC entered the buildings and created problems for the patients and staff.
In the HFH basement, which houses X-Ray department, laboratory, burn unit and mortuary, all work had to be suspended.
It took eight hours for the hospital staff to clear the sewerage water from the basement. As a result, the staff stopped conducting X-rays and laboratory tests for one day and referred the patients to outside the hospital to private laboratories.
The RIC opted to close down the main gates of the hospital and did not allow the patients to Outdoor Patients, as the water was knee deep. “The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) is working on construction of nullah to drain the sewerage from the hospital but the work is being conducted on a slow pace,” complained an official of the hospital.