Death toll in Karachi rises to 11 as heavy monsoon rains cause 'critical situation'

Updated August 11, 2019

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A rescue operation by Rangers is underway in Karachi. — Photo by Imtiaz Ali
A rescue operation by Rangers is underway in Karachi. — Photo by Imtiaz Ali

At least 11 people, including a child, lost their lives in rain-related incidents in Karachi, police said on Sunday as the megalopolis experienced heavy monsoon showers for a second consecutive day.

Nine people died of electrocution, while two were killed in roof collapses in Qasbah Colony and Bhatta Village, Edhi sources and the Superintendent Police Korangi told DawnNewsTV. Seven animals were also killed in various rain-related incidents, sources said.

Read more: Cattle sellers worry about animals amid rainy weather

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Sindh leader Khurram Sher Zaman, in a press conference with President Haleem Adil Shaikh, demanded K-Electric to pay Rs10 million as compensation to families of victims who died from electric shocks.

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar also said that he will accompany people who wanted to file a first information report against K-Electric.

The deluge caused an electricity breakdown in the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board's pumping stations, as a result of which the city could not be provided up to 250 million gallons of water.

Roads across the city are flooded with rainwater, while electricity supply is suspended in certain areas. A rescue operation conducted by the Rangers is currently underway.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah spoke to the Karachi commissioner and other officials, including local body and KWSB personnel, directing them to begin drainage of rainwater from the streets as soon as the rain stops.

He also directed Karachi Police Chief Ghulam Nabi Memon to ask police to help people in the city, particularly residents of low-lying areas and informal settlements (katchi abadis).

Akhtar, in a conversation with the media, criticised the provincial government and demanded that the city be declared "disaster-struck" so that PDMA and NDMA can provide assistance to authorities in tackling the damage caused by rain. He also urged citizens to stay away from electric poles and wires, in light of multiple deaths caused by electrocution.

He insisted that the metropolitan city needed proper infrastructure.

While talking to reporters later, Shah urged citizens to consider sacrificing animals on the second or third day of Eidul Azha.

Earlier, Akhtar had said that due to the rainwater accumulated on the roads, sacrificing animals in the streets will not be safe on Eidul Azha. He added that citizens could use the KMC slaughterhouse to sacrifice animals.

Meanwhile, PTI Sindh president Shaikh visited Shahrah-i-Faisal along with machinery to lift cars and rescue citizens stuck due to accumulation of rain water. Criticising the government, he said that the authorities failed to take any steps to prevent the city from damage caused by rain, despite prior warning.

"Karachi is drowning but the government is sleeping," Sheikh said.

PM not playing constitutional role

Chief minister Shah, during a visit to Hyderabad, said that the Disaster Management Authorities (DMAs) need to be strengthened in view of the recent rain related disasters being tackled by the Sindh government in Karachi, Hyderabad and other districts.

"The role of a DMA is to prepare itself first. For example, in Hyderabad it is the duty of its head to form a data base of all machineries that are available in his districts, be it the public or private sector. He [the head] should even have on hand the data of generators or dewatering pumping machines in households. In view of such disasters, he assumes the authority to acquire such machinery to shift them to the pumping station,” said CM Shah.

“We are unfortunately unable to strengthen DMA to that extent. But it is indeed needed."

He said that the prime minister is not playing his constitutional role as he had failed to convene a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to take up important issues of Sindh.

To a question whether the federal government would financially support the Sindh government in their disaster management efforts, he said neither had he contacted the prime minister, nor had the prime minister contacted him.

Citing past attempts in which he had tried to communicate with PM Imran, Shah said he had written half a dozen letters but did not get a single reply. However, he hoped with the current dire situation being faced by the province, that would change.

“I will now expect the prime minister to reach out [to the Sindh government]. For the last ten months a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) has not been convened and important issues of Sindh, including that of water, are pending."

He further said that the issue of Article 158 is pending which relates to the ownership of oil and gas exploration, a matter which would also have come under discussion in the CCI meeting.

Shah added that the National Economic Council’s meeting is to be held twice a year and only one meeting was held last fiscal year. “It is again another violation of the Constitution,” he said.

“When the prime minister is not playing his constitutional role what else I can demand from him,” said Shah.

'Critical situation'

K-Electric, in a tweet, said that the rainfall had created a "critical situation in Karachi" and urged the city administration to declare a state of emergency.

In a series of tweets, the city's electricity provider said that low-lying areas such as Landhi, Ilyas Goth, Ibrahim Hyderi, Majid Colony Union Council 4, Shah Faisal, Malir Scheme 33, Rehri Goth and Korangi, which are prone to urban flooding, had been inundated with rainwater.

KE said that electricity supply to areas in a "state of urban flooding" had been suspended in the interest of public safety after it received reports of water accumulating around power installations and entering homes, posing a risk of electrocution.

K-Electric said that restoration efforts had also been hampered due to the challenging conditions and urged civic bodies to ensure drainage of water so that power could be restored.

A number of cities across the country have received rainfall as a monsoon system from India draws closer to Pakistan.

At least six people were killed and 14 others injured in various districts as heavy rains lashed swathes of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa overnight on Saturday, according to the PDMA.

At least 50 heads of cattle and hundreds of chickens also died due to the rain.

Sindh flood warning

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) on Saturday flashed a flood warning in Sindh as the water level in key barrages continued rising, posing a danger to the lives of people and animals, as well as private and public property and infrastructure.

The water level in the Hub Dam rose by 2 feet on Sunday, reaching a total of 312 feet. According to Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) sources, the water level may rise 8 feet more, reaching 320 feet. The maximum capacity of the dam is 339 feet.

According to the sources, enough water has been stored to provide the people of Karachi and Hub with water for a year.

Forecast for Sunday, Monday

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), on Sunday, widespread rains/wind and thunderstorms (with isolated heavy rainfall) are expected in Hyderabad, Thatta, Karachi, Shaheed Benazirabad, Makran, Kalat divisions; in certain parts of Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, Larkana, Quetta, Zhob, Kalat, Sibbi, Naseerabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sargodha, Faisalabad divisions and Kashmir; and at isolated places in Mardan, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Multan divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Isolated heavy rainfall is also expected in Lower Sindh (Thatta, Hyderabad, Karachi, Shaheed Benazirabad divisions), Makran and Kalat divisions.

Additionally, on Monday, widespread rains/wind-thunderstorm (with isolated heavy falls) are expected in Makran division, while at scattered places in Shaheed Benazirabad, Kalat, Malakand, Hazara, Peshawar, Mardan, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore divisions, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Rainfall recorded across the country

According to the PMD, the following amounts of rainfall were recorded across the country (all figures in millimetres):

Sindh: Karachi (Surjani 151, Gulshan-i-Hadeed 149, Jinnah AP 129, Faisal Base 121, Landhi 118, Model Observatory 112, Masroor Base 110, Nazimabad 109, Keamari 93, North Karachi 79); Thatta 142; Badin 93; Mirpurkhas; Tando Jam 81; Sakrand 38; Nagarparkar 37; Kalaoe 35; Shaheed Benazirabad 26; Mithi 24; Islamakot 20; Diplo 15; Chhor 13; Chachro 08; Hyderabad; Dadu 03; Rohri 02.

Punjab: Islamabad ( Golra 37, Bokra 29, Saidpur 24, ZP 21, AP 06); Bahawlpur (City 20, AP 07); Rawalpindi (Shamshabad 20); Khanpur 18; Chakwal 17; Murree 16; Layyah 13; Rahim Yar Khan 11; DG Khan; Gujrat 05; Kot Addu 03; Joharabad Okara 01.

KP: Tahktbhai 30; Malam Jabba 29; Saidu Sharif 23; Pattan; Kalam, Bannu, and Upper Dir 01.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Skardu 23; Bunji 15; Bagrote 10; Astore and Gilgit 08; Gupis 06; Chilas 04.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir: Rawalakot 11; Garidupatta 08; Muzzafarabad ( City 06, AP 05).