KARACHI: At least 16 people died — mostly from electrocution — and three others were injured in Karachi and other parts of Sindh on Monday as the first spell of much-anticipated monsoon rain wreaked havoc on the ill-maintained electricity and sewerage systems, causing gridlock and flooding in several districts, officials and sources said.
With the Pakistan Metrological Department warning that the trend was likely to continue for next 24 hours, the situation in Karachi started to normalise after the sunset, more than 12 hours of raining. The pre-dawn rain continued till late into evening and the highest count in the city was recorded at 69.4 millimetre at 8pm.
“The much-awaited rain system entered Sindh early in the morning,” said Sardar Sarfaraz at Karachi’s Met office. “Due to climate factors the system landed a little late in the region, but since it’s finally here, we are expecting moderate-to-heavy rain to continue in the city for the next 24 to 36 hours. There are two systems currently circulating in the region; one in the Arabian Sea and the other in the Bay of Bengal. Besides, there is the effect of the monsoon weather conditions coming from upper parts of the country.”
After two months of hot and humid weather, the rain brought relief to the Karachiites. However, it also proved to be a source of misery for many. The two major government-run healthcare facilities in the city — Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) — received nine bodies, including five teenage people. They all lost their lives in rain-related incidents.
Dr Seemi Jamali of the JPMC said most of the people died from electrocution while encountering open wires and electricity poles amid rainfall.
The city administration, which is divided between local and provincial governments led by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Pakistan Peoples Party, respectively, came under severe criticism — first for inadequate preparation for the predicted rain and later for poor response to the damage it caused. On their part, both parties said that the situation was not as bad as painted by the broadcast and social media.
“The key roads of Karachi which always become inundated after rain, this time, are not in that bad condition. Traffic is through on major roads. We are only facing challenges in a few areas where the drainage system is not capable of handling this amount of rainwater. But we are going for alternative solution and the situation will turn better within the next few hours,” Sindh Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani said.
Seven people were killed in rain-related incidents in interior parts of the province. Four of them died by lightning that struck villages in Badin and Hyderabad districts.
Two people, aged 12 and 16, were killed when lightning struck a village near Matli town. A 22-year-old man and his 12-year-old cousin were killed by lightning in a village near Tando Allahyar town. A youth was killed in a similar incident in Rukan Burirro village of Sanghar district.
In Umerkot district, a villager died when the roof of his room collapsed during heavy rain. The incident took place in Harrh village near Dhoronaro town.
In Thana Bula Khan, one of the eight men travelling in a vehicle was swept away by hill torrents. His companions were rescued.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019