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The city that drowned

August 05, 2019

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The submerged cattle market. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The submerged cattle market. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Have you heard the legend of Atlantis, the island which vanished under water? According to Plato, the ancient philosopher from Athens, Atlantis was a very advanced and big island located in the Atlantic Ocean. But with time it lost its greatness. After earthquakes and floods the island eventually sank into the sea.

The recent rains made one remember those school history lessons and reading about ancient Greece and of course Sparta and Athens and the legends associated with these cities. And the condition in which one found Karachi after the rains, one remembered of Atlantis where slowly the people turned corrupt and the gods sent calamities their way as punishment.

When cars and rickshaws become boats. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
When cars and rickshaws become boats. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Here in Karachi, too, the authorities were held responsible for not cleaning the gutters and drains for the rain water to flow smoothly into the sea.

Hence you had trash blocking the drains and the dirty water levels rising in the gutters to overflow and flood the city. On a self-help basis people removed the lids from gutters to let the water flow in, which caused another major problem — the risk of people falling into manholes. The overflowing gutters unable to absorb the water and being under water were not visible after all.

Flowing rivers on the road. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Flowing rivers on the road. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Another thing not visible under the water were the live electric cables that had fallen down, even though most of Karachi was without power. The wires became the cause of death for many poor unsuspecting souls.

Meanwhile, people had to walk in knee-deep water to reach their destinations when public transport too failed them. Many cars which stopped running after water got into their engines were also left by the roadside where they couldn’t remain for long as they started floating.

A Japanese submarine. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A Japanese submarine. / Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

The vehicles lucky enough to be running in the terrible conditions looked like boats. Many had their carpets and seats soaked with dirty water.

All grounds in the city were also soaked with puddles everywhere. This was and still is particularly of concern to people in the cattle markets it being close to Eidul Azha when the sacrificial animals are being sold there. The poor animals were particularly miserable. Many even fell sick.

The most worrisome part about all this is that all this devastation was caused by only the start of the monsoon season. There are more rains ahead here.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2019