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Heavy rain, hailstorm lead to flooding in downtown Rawalpindi

Updated July 14, 2019

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Streets in Rawalpindi’s Purana Qila area inundated following heavy rain early Saturday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Streets in Rawalpindi’s Purana Qila area inundated following heavy rain early Saturday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

RAWALPINDI: Heavy rain accompanied by hail hit the twin cities in the early hours of Saturday, choking the sewerage system and flooding localities in downtown Rawalpindi.

The rain began at midnight and continued intermittently for an hour. The Met Office recorded 31 millimetres at Zero Point, 5mm in Saidpur, 2mm in Golra, 6mm at the Islamabad International Airport, 33mm in Shamsabad and 27mm in Chaklala, Rawalpindi.

The Met Office has also predicted a thunderstorm with isolated heavy rainfall in most of the province, including Rawalpindi and Islamabad, in the next 24 hours.

Met Office predicts heavy rainfall, thunderstorms in twin cities in next 24 hours

Widespread rain thundershowers, with a few moderate to heavy falls, and a windstorm are expected in Kashmir and Islamabad, and the Rawalpindi, Hazara, Gujranwala and Lahore divisions, as well as in scattered parts of the Malakand, Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Bannu, Sargodha and Faisalabad divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected in isolated areas in the Hazara, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Lahore divisions, as well as Islamabad and Kashmir.

Hot and humid weather is expected elsewhere in the country.

The rain on Saturday disrupted the sleep of residents in low-lying areas as the choked sewerage system led to Rawalpindi’s downtown localities being flooded with knee-deep water.

The worst affected areas were Sir Syed Road, Raja Bazaar, Jamia Masjid Road, Banni, Kashmiri Bazaar, Gali Loharan, Purana Qila, Moti Bazaar, Bohar Bazaar and adjoining areas.

Shopkeepers in Mochi Bazaar and Moti Bazaar complained that rainwater had entered their shops.

“The situation in Sutar Bazaar and on Jamia Masjid Road has gone from bad to worse, as waterlogging has become a common feature in this specific area,” Mohammad Afzal, a shopkeeper on Jamia Masjid Road, said.

Moti Bazaar shopkeeper Mohammad Anwar said this was not the first time such a situation had arisen, but has been a problem for many years. He said the monsoon rain made it difficult for people to leave their homes.

The government has failed to provide better civic facilities, Sarafa Bazaar resident Sajid Mirza said, adding that the roads virtually become ponds when it rains, making it difficult for people to move around.

Deputy Commissioner Ali Randhawa told Dawn the administration was on its toes when the rainfall began.

“The water level increased in Leh Nullah to 6.5 feet at Gawalmandi and 6.1ft at Kattarian Bridge. However, the warning is issued to low-lying areas when the water level rises to 22ft in Leh Nullah,” he said.

He added that the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) and Rawalpindi Waste Municipal Company (RWMC) were directed to remain alert during the monsoon to drain water from low-lying areas.

Mr Randhawa said rainwater accumulated in some areas, including the Committee Chowk Underpass and Liaquat Bagh, but Wasa and the RWMC cleared the water an hour after the rain stopped.

He said he visited the areas early in the morning and heard from locals, as sanitation workers had cleaned the streets of mud by then. Assistant commissioners and Rescue 1122 have also been assigned to carry out a third party audit of the sanitation work after rainfall in the coming monsoon days.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2019