LAHORE: Fifty-two people, three soldiers among them, were killed and over 90 others injured on Thursday as torrential rain wreaked havoc in north-eastern Punjab and Kashmir, causing a very high flood in river Chenab.
A number of cities received over 130mm of rain. The Met department said the current monsoon system was likely to weaken on Friday morning, but till then it would continue to generate torrential rain. The system is likely to persist for another 48 hours.
A peak of 467,000 cusecs passing through the Chenab at Akhnor (India) at midday was to enter Pakistan in the night. The Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) Lahore said it expected a discharge of 600,000 cusecs (very high flood) in the river at Marala at night. The water level in the river is expected to rise further over the next 24 hours, threatening low-lying areas of Sialkot and Gujranwala regions.
There are also chances of spillovers or breaches at vulnerable places and high to very high flood in nullahs of Ravi and Chenab rivers in the Sialkot region.
Three soldiers among 52 dead; very high flood in Chenab
The system generated very heavy rainfall – 8mm in one hour – in Indian Punjab and upper catchments of Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej rivers.
But the Flood Forecasting Bureau said that two unfilled Indian dams over Ravi and Sutlej and Jhelum-fed Mangla would absorb much of the rainwater. There was no immediate danger of exceptionally high flood in the three eastern rivers, it added.
The FFD said the flow into Jhelum was 186,000 cusecs and expected to rise to 600,000 over the next 24 hours, but most of the inflow would be absorbed by unfilled Mangla Dam.
DEATHS: Rescue 1122 said that 16 people, three women among them, were killed in Lahore as rain levelled houses in different areas of the city. Five people were killed in Faisalabad, six in Gujranwala, five in Sialkot, four in Kasur, three in Khanewal, two in Okara and one in Sheikhupura when roofs of their houses collapsed. The deaths in Kasur were caused by electrocution.
In Azad Kashmir, three soldiers and seven civilians were killed in landslides and flash floods which ravaged the mountainous region.
According to the ISPR, Captain Fazal Wudood and soldiers Ghulam Mohiyuddin and Mohammad Suleman were killed in a landslide in Kehler Khurshidabad area of Haveli district.
Gulshad Begum, Bashiran Bibi, Nasim Bibi and her daughter Sumayya and Fazal Hussain were killed when roofs of their houses collapsed in Kotli, Mirpur, Bhimber and Dariyan towns.
In Dina, a man was killed and over 20 people were feared dead when a dilapidated bridge over Nullah Kahan collapsed. Over 24 people were on the bridge. Rescue workers saved three men alive and recovered one body.
Several vehicles were washed away in the torrent.
Rain in Lahore started on Wednesday afternoon and continued uninterrupted till Thursday morning. It inundated the entire city and exposed the Punjab government’s claim of having been prepared to meet the monsoon challenge.
The Met office recorded 183mm of rain at its Jail Road office and 171mm at the airport from 8am on Wednesday to 8am on Thursday. The average rainfall was 155mm.
Low-lying areas were totally submerged, disrupting the smooth flow of traffic. Crippled cars and motorcycles were seen everywhere in the city. Attendance in educational institutions and offices remained extremely thin. Business activity resumed in the afternoon after the rainwater was cleared from markets.
The Met office said Palandri in Azad Kashmir was the worst-hit town. It received 313mm of rain in 24 hours.
Mangla received 199mm of rain, Jassar (Narowal) 183mm, Rawalakot 163mm, Jhelum 143mm, Ravi Syphon 131mm, Kasur 129mm, Kotli 141mm, Gujranwala 120mm, Gujrat 164mm, Okara 102mm, Sialkot (Cantt 98mm and airport 96mm), Toba Tek Singh 97mm, Faisalabad 98mm, Mandi Bahauddin 87mm, Okara 70mm, Garhi Dupatta 54mm, Domel 53mm, Muzaffarabad 59mm, Kund 43mm, Dir 39mm, Skardu 37mm, Bahawalnagar 57mm, Islamabad Airport 55mm and Zero Point 47mm, Skardu 38mm, Murree 28mm, Astore 27mm, Sahiwal 18mm, Kakul 17mm and Balakot and Sargodha 13mm each.
The Met office forecast widespread thundershowers with gusty winds and scattered to fairly widespread heavy to very heavy rain over upper catchments of Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej rivers.
Widespread thundershowers with gusty winds are likely to occur over Punjab, with scattered heavy to very heavy falls over Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Lahore, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi divisions and Islamabad and isolated heavy falls over Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan divisions and heavy to very heavy falls over Kashmir.
Fairly widespread thundershowers with gusty winds may occur over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with isolated to scattered heavy to very heavy falls over Malakand, Mardan and Hazara divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Scattered thundershowers with gusty winds are expected over Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad and Karachi divisions as well as Fata and eastern Balochistan.
There may be urban inundation in areas of heavy to very heavy downpours and medium to high flooding in nullahs of hill torrents of Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and their surroundings.
In Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and some other cities of Punjab, rain continued till late in the night.
The highest maximum rainfall of 189.7mm was recorded on Jail Road in Lahore on Aug 23, 1996. The city had received a record 432mm of rain in three days. The record for the heaviest rain in Lahore in one day – 221mm – was made on Aug 13, 2008.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2014