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23 killed as monsoon rains lash Karachi

Updated August 31, 2017

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A family makes their way on a flooded street after heavy rain in Karachi on August 31, 2017. ─ AFP
A family makes their way on a flooded street after heavy rain in Karachi on August 31, 2017. ─ AFP

At least 23 people died in Karachi ─ mostly from electrocution ─ as monsoon rains lashed the city on Thursday, officials said. Two others died in Sindh's Jamshoro and Kashmore districts.

According to the Met Department, the spell of rains which began Wednesday evening is expected to continue for three days in various parts of Sindh.

Residents of Karachi can call the Karachi Municipal Corporation's (KMC) rain emergency centres at 0332-2685090, 0335-7553976 and 1339 in case of emergency.

Read more: Rain 101: essential things to keep in mind to cope with monsoon

Various parts of the city — including North Nazimabad, North Karachi, Orangi, Malir, Drigh Road, NIPA, Northern Bypass and Gujjar Nala — were submerged because of the heavy rains, while some underpasses have turned into virtual swimming pools, DawnNews reported.

Houses are partially submerged following heavy rainfall in Karachi. ─ AP
Houses are partially submerged following heavy rainfall in Karachi. ─ AP

Fears also arose over the day of possible flooding in Saadi Town and Super Highway where water had gathered after a crack appeared in Thado Dam near Malir, according to a Rangers spokesman. He said Rangers officials had reached both areas to help out citizens facing difficulties.

District Council Chairman Salman Murad, however, later rubbished the reports of a crack in the dam as "incorrect rumours". Murad, who visited the site after the news surfaced, said there is still room for more water to accumulate in the dam.

Administrative officials, while speaking to DawnNews, said work was underway to divert the rainwater away from Saadi Town.

Casualties

Seven children, including one girl, were among the 23 people who died in rain-related incidents in Karachi. Most of the deaths occurred owing to electrocution.

An Edhi Foundation spokesperson told Dawn its ambulance service had transported the bodies of at least 13 people who died in various parts of the city.

A Chippa rescue official confirmed that seven bodies had been recovered by the service from different localities.

Taimuria Station House Officer Jamal Leghari said that a body of boy was found floating in a storm water drain near People's Chowrangi. The boy's body was shifted to an Edhi morgue for identification.

An eight-year-old child was killed when a building belonging to the Intelligence Bureau collapsed in the city's Clifton area in the aftermath of heavy rain, Karachi South DIG Azad Khan confirmed.

After the incident, the minor's body was shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali confirmed the death of the child.

Dr Jamali also confirmed the death of a young man, Shahzeb (23), who she said was dead on arrival.

A man who drowned in a stormwater drain in Surjani Town's Khuda Ki Basti remains missing. An Edhi boat which attempted to search for him abandoned the operation owing to poor visibility at nightfall.

In Kashmore town, a young girl identified as Aqsa was electrocuted in her house, whereas in Jamshoro, 22-year-old Hajan Ali drowned in rainwater near Thano Bola Khan town of Jamshoro district.

Relief operations

After Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa instructed the army to extend full support to the Karachi city administration, the army provided water extraction pumps to the administration, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Rangers and Army officials are also assisting in relief operations in various parts of the city, DawnNews reported.

Children play in an underpass filled with rainwater in Karachi. ─ AP
Children play in an underpass filled with rainwater in Karachi. ─ AP

The Pakistan Air Force allocated a C-130 aircraft and two helicopters to the Sindh government to take part in rescue and relief operations if necessary.

Additionally, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah — who is currently in Makkah for Haj — directed Health Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro that emergency departments at all government-run hospitals should remain stocked, and that the availability of doctors at all government health facilities must be ensured throughout the province.

The chief minister also directed the Sindh chief secretary to ensure that the Provincial Disaster Management Authority is helping citizens as rains pound the province.

Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Khan Siyal issued directives for Traffic Police Karachi to remain present on roads and ensure smooth traffic. He also directed Karachi Districts Police to assist and facilitate citizens in coordination with the traffic police

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar had, on Monday, directed KMC staff to remain alert and ready with all required equipment and machinery to tackle problems related to the expected rainfall.

The Karachi administration had also requested the Pakistan Army to help manage the effects of torrential rains in the city, ISPR said.

CM Shah called Sindh Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro and Transport Minister Nasir Shah to express concern about the situation in the province. Shoro and Nasir Shah briefed the Sindh CM after inspecting various areas of the city to assess the situation.

Power supply

According to K-Electric (KE) Communications Director Sadia Dada, 30 of Karachi's 1,600 feeders remained affected till the evening.

"Some feeders have been switched off in view of safety concerns in areas with waterlogging, and restoration work will be expedited in affected areas as soon as standing water is wiped out," Dada said earlier.

She urged residents to exercise caution around electric supply points and transmission lines on the streets, particularly in areas with urban flooding, and asked them to report broken wires and other issues on KE's helplines.

Customers can register queries/complaints on 118 or 99000, and through KE’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Flood warning

Following days-long downpours in neighboring India that especially caused havoc in Mumbai, a well-marked low pressure system in the neighbouring country sent out very strong moisture currents which generated widespread rain in lower Sindh, scattered areas of Punjab and upper parts of the country on Wednesday.

Windstorms and rains are expected to lash scattered places in Sindh (Sukkur, Larkana and Shaheed Benazir-abad, etc) and Punjab (Lahore, Gujran­wala, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan, Bahawal­pur and Dera Ghazi Khan, etc), besides parts of Balochistan and upper parts of the country — Hazara, Pesha­war, Malakand and Sargodha divisions, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir.

The Met Department has asked citizens to avoid "unnecessary travel".

Children play in a flooded street after heavy rain in Karachi. ─ AFP
Children play in a flooded street after heavy rain in Karachi. ─ AFP

The Sindh government had issued a weather warning on Tuesday, anticipating heavy rains, in which it directed all district disaster management authorities, commissioners and deputy commissioners to ensure that all precautionary measures are taken to avoid any untoward situation as well as adopt an effective response mechanism, including issuing an early warning for flash floods.

The direction, through a "most urgent" letter, was issued in connection with a weather warning issued by the Met Department.

"A strong monsoon weather system from India is heading towards Sindh and is likely to enter south-east Sindh on Tuesday evening. Under its influence rain/thundershowers with a number of moderate to heavy and few very heavy falls with strong gusty winds may occur Sindh particularly in lower divisions in Sindh, including Karachi from August 30 to September 1. Heavy falls may generate urban flooding in vulnerable areas of lower Sindh," read the warning.