PESHAWAR: At least 44 people were killed and more than 200 wounded when a mini-cyclone, described by Met Office as the third worst in the country's history, struck Peshawar and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday.
Most of the victims were women and children as torrential rains lashed Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera and other areas of the province causing roofs to cave in and walls to collapse.
Rescuers rushed victims to hospitals as roads submerged in water hindered their operations. Ambulances and rescue vehicles found it difficult to enter into some areas due to fallen trees and electric poles. Residents carried some of the injured on their backs to cars heading to hospitals.
An emergency has been declared at all local hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Most of the victims were shifted to Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital. As the number of casualties kept increasing LRH could not cope with the influx of injured and, therefore, fresh arrivals were taken to the Khyber Teaching Hospital.
While extending his condolences on the loss of life and property due to the torrential rains, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif approved a package of Rs500,000 for the family of each deceased person and Rs50,000 for each person injured.
|Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan's wife Reham Khan also visited victims. While speaking to media representatives, Khan said that "we stand by the affectees in their hour of need". She added that most of the victims sustained head injuries and they are being provided with the best medical facilities - DawnNews screengrab|
Two army battalions have been deployed in the affected areas for rescue and relief work.
The severe storm uprooted trees, blew away billboards, and damaged power transmission lines, causing a blackout. Many areas were without power in parts of Peshawar and Charsadda districts.
A huge shed at the toll plaza on the motorway was also torn away by the strong winds.
Met Office has forecast more showers in the next 24 hours.
Torrential rainfall resulted in accumulation of three feet deep water in some areas.
AFP quoted Mushtaq Ali Shah, director of the provincial meteorological department, as saying that the storm was a “mini- cyclone”.
He added that the cyclone had lost speed but heavy rainfall was likely in the province’s northern districts.
Pakistan typically experiences such rains during its monsoon season in June and July.
Rain, hail lash twin cities, flights suspended
Dark grey clouds eclipsed the morning sun in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Monday as heavy rain with thunder and lightning lashed the twin cities in the last 24 hours.
The Meteorological department recorded 22 millimetres of rain in Islamabad and 7mm in Rawalpindi.
Mercury in the area dropped as hail pelted on the twin cities and gusty winds blew.
The weather in the capital and adjoining areas also affected the flights schedule at Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
According to Flight Inquiry service, flights planned for departure to eight different cities of the country have been suspended and several others delayed as a result of the pouring rain.
|A Pakistani man runs for cover from heavy rain in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Monday, April 27, 2015. —AP|
Rs13mn available for rescue: KP Information Minister
Speaking to a press conference, Provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani said the Deputy Commissioner Peshawar has Rs13 million available to be used for the aid of those affected by the severe weather.
He said 10 teams have been formed to carry out operations to rescue the people affected by the torrential rains.
Ghani lauded the performance of Rescue 1122 who he said reached the victims at the cost of their lives and treated them on the spot.
He said the calamity that hit the province was unanticipated and natural, hence there was a need to remain united in providing assistance to those affected.