LAHORE/PESHAWAR: Rain and floods in River Chenab and its tributaries claimed another 36 lives in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir on Saturday.
Alarm bells rang in the affected regions after the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) said a fresh peak of “extremely exceptional high flood” — 861,000 cusecs — had entered River Chenab at Marala from the India-held Jammu (Akhnoor). It was expected to rise to 900,000 cusecs before Sunday morning.
According to the FFD, breaches would have to be made at Khanki and Qadirabad as the capacity of the two barrages was a mere 800,000 cusecs.
“The next 24 hours are crucial as we expect breaches at Khanki and Qadirabad to save the two barrages as the fresh peak exceeds their design capacity. The breaches will cause massive devastation,” Riaz Khan, an FFD official said.
The first peak of around 700,000 cusecs had crossed the river at Marala on Friday. On Satur-day it crossed Khanki and Qadirabad headworks.
Know more: Villagers told to shift to safer places
The design capacity of the Marala headworks is 1.1 million cusecs and the limit of “exceptionally high flood” ends at 600,000 cusecs. “This situation is dangerous” Mr Khan said.
Chenab saw a discharge of 1.1 million cusecs at Marala on Aug 26, 1957. The discharge wreaked havoc on its way to River Indus.
According to the authorities, the fresh peak will pose a real danger at Khanki, where it was expected to reach in the small hours of Sunday, , and Qadirabad.
Riaz Khan, the FFD official, said he feared breaches and spillovers from Marala to Khanki. “The peak in Chenab will cause high flood in Indus as it will merge into it after five days.”
The FFD has advised the authorities in Gujrat, Faisalabad, Narowal, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujranwala and Sialkot districts to take precautionary measures to avoid any loss to life and property.
Earlier, the first peak of nearly 700,000 cusecs passed the River Chenab at Marala on Friday. Later it crossed Khanki and Qadirabad on Saturday.
The discharge at Khanki by 9.30pm was 594,000 cusecs and at Qadirabad 621,000 cusecs and the water level was falling.
A peak of 600,000 cusecs was recorded in River Jhelum at Mangla on Friday. But the inflow on Saturday fell to 150,000 cusecs.
RAVI IN MEDIUM FLOOD: The FFD also reported medium flood in River Ravi at Jassar with a discharge of 80,000 cusecs. It expected the peak to travel to Shahdara by Sunday.
Meanwhile, the monsoon low over Indian Punjab that wreaked havoc in north-eastern Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) over the past three days became insignificant after generating heavy rain in Sialkot and Gujranwala.
The entire Gujranwala region, particularly Sialkot, Wazirabad and Zafarwal, were badly affected by the swollen Chenab river.
As many as 11 people, including four women, were killed in Sialkot, three in Gujranwala, five in Kasur, three in Pasrur, and one in Narowal. The cause of deaths was either caving in of roofs or collapsed houses.
SEVEN DIE IN LAHORE: It did not rain in Lahore on Saturday. But seven people, including two women and two minor girls, were killed in different parts of the city as the rain-soaked roofs of their houses collapsed.
According to the Met office, the monsoon system almost dissipated before giving 163mm of rain in Sialkot, 74mm in Gujranwala and 37mm in Gujrat. Cities like Islamabad and Jhelum received light rain.
Reports from north-eastern districts of Punjab indicated large-scale loss to property and crops in the Sialkot region. Floodwater entered scores of villages after reported breaches in Nullah Dek and Chenab at Qadirabad.
Water spilled over the storm water channels in the region and entered Wazirabad, Kamonke, Pindi Bhattian and Jalalpur Bhattian. In Kamonke, the embankment of Nullah Mesri breached and its water entered the city.
People began to shift over to safer places with the help of the army which is conducting rescue operations in worst-hit areas.
Four people were killed in the Dertian area of Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when a house collapsed due to heavy rain late on Friday night.
An official said the deceased, including two children, one woman and one man, belonged to the same family. The house collapsed after the area received heavy rain. Local people retrieved bodies from the rubble.
Parts of Hazara division received heavy rains.
In various parts of Azad Kashmir, another seven people lost their lives in rain-related incidents between Friday and Saturday.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2014