KARACHI: At least 23 people, including seven children and a girl, died from electrocution and other rain-related incidents in the city on Thursday when the dreaded downpour not only disrupted flight operations but also caused flooding of many neighbourhoods amid outages despite early weather warnings.
As Karachi received up to 130 millimetres (5.11 inches) of rainfall on Thursday (with more showers expected on Friday as well) Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi directed the Pakistan Army, National Highway Authority (NHA), Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Ports and Shipping, the Pakistan Rangers, and other authorities to mobilise all their resources to clear the roads and ensure uninterrupted communication and connectivity within the city as well as with other parts of Pakistan.
The storm drain of Gujjar nullah started overflowing after the Lyari River got filled to capacity, inundating the surrounding settlements while a number of vehicles were seen swamped in knee-deep rainwater as motorists struggled to pass through flooded roads including those leading to city’s major hospitals.
Despite the weather alerts and early warnings issued by different quarters, the loss of so many lives on a single day exposed the tall claims of the government about rain emergency measures. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Governor Mohammad Zubair, who are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia these days to perform Haj, called the provincial ministers and Pakistan Navy’s Commander Karachi, respectively, to take necessary measures to clear accumulated rainwater.
Several areas submerged by rainwater; flights disrupted; PN, army, NHA, KPT, Rangers called for rescue
Most of the victims died from electrocution. Two died when the roof or wall of some decrepit buildings collapsed and an equal number of people drowned in different parts of the city. The deceased were identified as one-year-old Farman from North Karachi; two-year-old Sania from Afridi Colony of Manghopir; Salahuddin, 45, from Shershah; Irfan, 28, from Machhar Colony; Michael Salim, 23, from Punjab Colony; Saeedullah, 21, Gulshan-i-Maymar; Aslam, 10, from Gulistan-i-Jauhar; Ahmer, 11, from Gabol Town, Sajid, 24, from Chishti Nagar; Sohail, 25, from Nazimabad, Mariam, 20, from Saeedabad, Mohsin Ikram, 10, from Neelum Colony in Clifton; Yasin Majeed, 22, from PIB Colony, Aftab Alam, 75, from Madinah Colony, Mohammed Jan, 6, from Kalakot, Rajab Ali, 25, from Sachal; Saeedullah, 22, from Gulshan-i-Bihar; Mohammad Naseer, 22, from Orangi Town; Dilawar, 40, from Fareed Colony; Nasir Khan, 25, from Metroville-SITE, Shazeb, 23, from Korangi; and two unidentified youngsters from People’s Chowrangi and Khuda Ki Basti, Surjani.
The number of deaths might be higher as relatives mostly tended to take away the bodies without allowing doctors to fulfil legal formalities, said Dr Aijaz Khokhar, police surgeon at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, while speaking to Dawn.
“Five persons were brought dead from various localities,” said additional police surgeon of Civil Hospital Karachi, Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi, adding that all of them had died from electrocution. As all roads leading to the CHK were flooded, people failed to shift several victims to the emergency department in time. Similarly, executive director at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre Dr Seemin Jamali said that heavy rain had inundated a special ward of the hospital but the administration managed to clear the rainwater.
More showers likely
According to the Met Office, the city is likely to have more rain with strong dusty winds on Friday. The maximum rainfall was recorded in North Karachi (130mm), followed by PAF base Masroor (125mm), Nazimabad (124mm), Saddar (84mm), University Road (52.7mm), PAF base Faisal (52mm), Safoora Goth (44mm), Airport (45mm) and Landhi (20mm). Other towns of Sindh which received showers included Tandojam (60mm), Hyderabad (52mm), Sakrand (46mm), Thatta (44mm), Mirpurkhas and Chhachhro (32mm), Nagarparkar (22mm), Diplo (12mm) and Nawabshah (11mm), Moenjodaro (9mm), Islamkot (5mm), Mithi, Padidan, Dadu (2mm) and Chhor (1mm).
In Karachi, the maximum and minimum temperature recorded was 32 and 26 degree Celsius respectively. Humidity was 75pc, according to the Met Department.
KE feeders trip
Some 80 of K-Electric’s 1,600 feeders tripped due to the rain. The localities affected by this included Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Nazimabad, Federal B Area, North Karachi and the old city area. The power utility informed that 40 of the feeders were turned off due to safety reasons in areas with urban flooding but most feeders were turned on three hours after the rain.
Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar accompanied by Deputy Mayor Dr Arshad Vohra and other leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement paid a detailed visit to various areas badly affected by showers to gauge gravity of the situation and inspect as to how effectively the municipal apparatus was functioning to drain rainwater from streets and neighbourhoods.
During his six-hour visit, Mayor Akhtar went to Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Federal B Area, Tahir Villa and Landi Kotal Roundabout, Nipa Roundabout, Hasan Square and the rain emergency centre at Kashmir Road. Talking to the media, the mayor said it was an extraordinary rainfall that affected almost all parts of the sprawling city.
“The municipal leadership is busy doing its job and we will not go back home until the situation is normalised,” he vowed. However, he said, it was responsibility of the Sindh government to sit once and for all to address the longstanding issues which had been hindering improvement related to disposal of sewage and garbage.
FWO machinery drowns
As water level in Lyari River increased, the machinery of Frontier Works Organisation that was being used for construction of Lyari Expressway drowned in it. Two operators of the machinery drowning in the river were rescued by the area people with the help of a rope and staircase, according to officials and witnesses.
In a statement issued from CM House, people have been advised to lodge their complaints with the complaint cell on its numbers: 021 99202080-1, 021-99207568, 021-99202065, 99207349 and Fax No. 021-99202007.
Meanwhile, the rain disrupted flight operations. At least four Pakistan International Airlines flights were cancelled and another was diverted, a PIA press release said, adding that 10 other flights were delayed due to the showers.
According to the statement, the flights PK536 Karachi-Sukkur, PK589 Bahawalpur-Karachi, PK501 Karachi-Turbat and PK503 Karachi-Gwadar were cancelled, while PK588 Karachi-Bahawalpur was diverted to Multan.
The flights which suffered long delays due to the weather included: Karachi-Sukkur (PK582); Karachi-Dubai (PK213), Karachi-Islamabad (PK366); Karachi-Sukkur (PK390); Karachi-DG Khan (PK585), and Karachi-Rahimyar Khan (PK582).
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2017