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Mini-cyclone death toll rises to 45

Updated April 28, 2015

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PESHAWAR: People trying to salvage on Monday what they can from a house which collapsed during the heavy rain and storm when winds reached the speed of up to 120kph on Sunday evening.—AP
PESHAWAR: People trying to salvage on Monday what they can from a house which collapsed during the heavy rain and storm when winds reached the speed of up to 120kph on Sunday evening.—AP

PESHAWAR: Amid slow and uncoordinated relief and recovery work, the death toll from mini-cyclone that hit Peshawar Valley on Sunday reached 45 on Monday.

Electricity could not be fully restored in the worst affected areas after 24 hours and residents are facing shortage of drinking water. Despite engaging several agencies, including two battalions of the army, relief assistance reached affected people very late.

Gul Akbar, a dweller of Pakha Ghulam, said the major problem was non-availability of drinking water because tube-wells could not run without electricity.

The scale of disaster is huge in rural parts of Peshawar and Charsadda.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has mobilised staff and resources of the district administration, the Provincial Disaster Manage­ment Authority (PDMA) and other civic bodies in relief and recovery operation.

Peshawar received another 69 millimetres of rain on Monday which hampered recovery and relief activities. Main roads and streets in the city remained under water, causing traffic jams.

A large number of educational institutions were closed because of inclement weather.

The PDMA started distribution of relief goods, including tents and food rations, in Pakha Ghulam locality at around 3.30pm, while several families in Dubair Colony and Haris Colony were still awaiting help.

“We have neither seen relief workers nor assistance,” complained Juma Khan, a resident of Dubair Colony whose house collapsed.

Provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani confirmed 45 deaths — 31 in Peshawar, nine in Charsadda and five in Nowshera — and 205 injured.

He said 162 injured received treatment in hospitals. The clean-up operation had been completed and the departments concerned had now focused on recovery and relief activities, he added.

The government has ordered the authorities to assess the losses and pay compensation to affected people.

The windstorm at a speed of 110km per hour, coupled with widespread rain and hailstorm, played havoc in Pakha Ghulam, Garhi Baloch, Wodpaga, Galozai, Fathu Abdur Rahimia, Mohammad Zai and residential areas along the main Charsadda road of Peshawar and ripped through adjacent Charsadda and Nowshera districts.

Briefing media, Informa­tion Minister Mushtaq Ghani said the provincial government had received an advisory from the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) about weather forecast on April 17, but it did not contain any information.

“I reiterate my earlier statement that the PDMA received forecast from the PMD that did not carry any warning about heavy storm,” he said, adding that the province did not have its own system.

An official of the Met office said the forecast about twister or mini-cyclone was not possible because required equipment was not available.

“Twister develops abruptly and its duration is very short which hits a limited area,” he said, adding that the mini-cyclone had hit Pakistan for the third time. Mini cyclones were common in the United States, Japan and the Gulf region, he said.

The high intensity storm had damaged dozens of electricity poles, mostly in rural areas of Peshawar and Charsadda. Complete restoration of electricity in some localities might take two to three days.

The windstorm blew away roofs and collapsed walls.

Shaukat Afzal, spokesman for the Peshawar Electric Supply Company, told Dawn that about 400 feeders had tripped in Peshawar, of which 255 were restored by midnight. The repair work was under way and 100 per cent restoration of electricity was not possible before Tuesday. The company had suffered losses of millions of rupees, he said.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2015

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