KARACHI: At least six people were killed in separate incidents on Monday when the first monsoon spell hit Karachi, wreaking havoc on the ill-maintained municipal infrastructure, disrupting electricity for hours and causing traffic jams on almost every major thoroughfare.
The showers brought little respite for the majority of the people of Karachi, who had been braving hot and humid weather conditions for the past several days, including most of Monday as the temperature soared to 40.3 degrees Celsius.
According to the Met Office, Karachi received maximum 40mm of rain, or 1.57 inches, in Saddar, Nazimabad (22mm), Faisal Base (26mm), Masroor Base (12mm), Pehalwan Goth (10mm), Jinnah Terminal (8.8mm), Landhi (3.1), Surjani Town (1.2mm), University Road (0.6mm), Gulshan-i-Hadeed (traces) and North Karachi (traces).
Six persons, including three children, were killed in different rain-related incidents in the city.
Rescuers, police and hospital sources said three-year old Isha Munawwar died when a wall of her house collapsed in Shamsi Society, Malir.
Met Office forecasts light to moderate showers today
In Liaquatabad’s Angara Goth, 60-year-old Tajan Razzaq died when a wall of her home collapsed.
In Ibrahim Hyderi, an Edhi Foundation spokesperson said two children were killed and as many injured when a wall of their house collapsed. Umer Din, 9, and Hania Noman, 7, died during treatment at a hospital, while two-month-old Muawia and three-month-old Alwasha were admitted for treatment.
Two persons, later identified as Babar Hussain and Khadim Hussain, were killed when the roof of their house collapsed in Ibrahim Hyderi.
Hot, humid weather to prevail
The Met office has forecast hot and humid weather conditions for the next two days with chances of light to moderate rain.
“Usually, the end of June and beginning of July bring some respite from hot weather as the monsoon heralds with partial clouds and sea breeze. This time, however, a low pressure area, lying over southern parts of Sindh including Karachi, is influencing weather conditions,” said city weatherman Sardar Sarfaraz.
The system, also blocking the sea breeze, would likely die out by Wednesday afternoon either in the Arabian Sea or by moving towards Oman, he added.
“Monday was also hot because of the north/westerly dry winds that raised the temperature further,” he said.
Explaining why the city had been so hot and humid for the past several days, Mr Sarfaraz said earlier the winds circulating in the lower and middle atmosphere over the Arabian Sea could be partly blamed for the scorching weather.
“This wind circulation over the Arabian Sea had disturbed the normal pattern of the sea breeze, which used to blow late afternoon,” he said.
Rain emergency in KMC
Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar on Monday imposed rain emergency at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and asked all departments to remain high alert to cope with any untoward situation.
He asked municipal services, fire brigade and departments of health, parks and engineering to remain alert.
The mayor also asked managements of KMC-run hospitals to be on their toes to cope with any unpleasant situation.
He directed heads of the hospitals to make arrangements for rain emergency and ensure presence of doctors and paramedics.
“The officials should keep their staff and machinery on standby for rapid response to any untoward situation,” he said, adding that leave of all officials and staff had been cancelled.
He also asked the citizens to avoid going out unnecessarily and to inform civic institutions in case of any emergency. “The people should also adopt precautionary measures as thunderstorm has been predicted in the city,” he said, advising people to avoid standing beneath trees, big signboards and electric poles.
The mayor also asked the citizens to wash their hands and fruits and vegetables before consumption to avoid rain-related diseases.
He asked the people not to open manholes for drainage of water as it might lead to loss of human lives. “The people should drive carefully during rains and bikers should wear helmets,” he added.
The mayor said that all civic institutions should ensure coordination for rapid action in case of any emergency.
He directed that rainwater drainage should be ensured from tail-end areas as well as underpasses and big arteries. “Heavy machinery, pumping stations and staffers should be available round the clock for water drainage and fixing of chocking points,” he said.
He was of the view that measures should also be taken to raise awareness amongst people, particularly children, to keep themselves away from electric poles to save lives.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020