At least 19 killed amid urban flooding as Karachi records highest rainfall in a day ever

Updated 28 Aug 2020

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People carry a washing machine through a flooded residential area after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on August 27, 2020. — AFP
People carry a washing machine through a flooded residential area after heavy monsoon rains in Karachi on August 27, 2020. — AFP

At least 19 people were killed in various rain-related incidents in Karachi on Thursday, officials and rescue services said, taking the tally of deaths during the three-day monsoon spell in the city to 30.

Meteorological officials said downpours in August have shattered 89-year-old records for the city.

Some 484mm (19 inches) of rain has fallen this month so far, city weatherman Sardar Sarfaraz told Reuters.

“It has never rained so much in the month of August, according to our data,” Sarfaraz said, adding that the data went back to 1931.

The Met department said Karachi received 223.5mm of rain in just 12 hours on Thursday alone, the highest amount of rain ever recorded in a single day in the city.

The previous 24-hour record was on July 26, 1967, when 211.3mm was recorded at Masroor base.

The crisis-like situation led Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to announce a public holiday for tomorrow. A statement issued by his office said all government, semi-government and private institutions except essential services will remain closed only in Karachi on Friday.

A 30-year-old man was electrocuted to death in Landhi area, Edhi services said. His body was shifted to a nearby hospital.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Navy during its rescue operation recovered the bodies of two persons from Shah Faisal Town and Korangi Crossing areas, which were handed over to their relatives.

According to a statement issued by the navy, it deployed emergency response teams in aid of the civil administration in various areas that were equipped with boats and other life-saving equipment.

During the operation, the navy teams also rescued 55 people trapped in the flooded areas of Malir and Korangi Crossing, while 20 families stranded in Sammoo Goth were also evacuated to a safe location.

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A man, identified as 26-year-old Umer Hayat, died due to electric shock at the rooftop of a building in Bukhari Commercial Area of DHA Phase 6, said South SSP Sheeraz Nazeer. His body was shifted to the South City Hospital.

A 42-year-old woman, Nusrat, drowned inside her house in PECHS, said Dr Seemin Jamali of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), where her body was brought. The deceased was a differently abled woman and was wheelchair-bound.

A 30-year-old man was found floating in a drain in Liaquatabad B-1 area. Area SHO Liaquat Hayat Mehsud said it appeared that the man drowned somewhere in the Lyari River and strong currents brought his body there, which was recovered and shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

A 22-year-old man drowned in the Lyari River near Raxer Lane, according to Chhipa sources. The body was shifted to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi.

The body of 18-year-old Imran Mohammed, who drowned in a stream at Bahria Town yesterday, was also recovered on Thursday, an Edhi Foundation spokesperson said.

A 25-year-old man died due to electrocution at Rehri Goth in Sukhan area whose body was brought to the JPMC, said Dr Jamali.

Mohammed Ali, 45, died after his motorcycle slipped due to rain in Baldia Town, according to rescue services.

A 13-year-old boy died when he suffered an electric shock in Punjab Colony.

Moreover, a 60-year-old man died in a rain-related incident in Gulistan-i-Jauhar area whose relatives took away his body without allowing doctors to ascertain the exact cause of death, said Jamali.

A 14-year-old boy, Rafay Kareem, died after a wall collapsed in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on Thursday night, according to Dr Jamali of the JPMC, where his body was brought.

According to Kareem's family, a wall of Saima Apartments collapsed due to land slide and fell down on the boy.

Meanwhile, six people died in another wall collapse incident. According to Rangers and the SSP East, two women and four children died after a wall collapsed at Saima Mall near Millennium Mall in Gulistan-i-Jauhar in the evening. The bodies were shifted to the JPMC. Two people were also rescued in injured condition and shifted to a nearby hospital, a Rangers spokesperson said.

According to data released by the Met department, PAF Faisal Base recorded 223.5 millimetres of rain while Nazimabad has recorded 159.1mm since morning. University Road received 68.2mm of rain, while Saadi Town recorded 101.7mm.

About 148.5mm of rain was recorded in PAF Masroor Base, Surjani received 193.1mm while Kemari recorded 167.5mm.

Army continues rescue work

In a statement, the military's media wing said many areas were inundated and people stranded due to heavy rains in various parts of Sindh.

An Army Flood Emergency Control Centre has been established in Karachi for assisting flood victims while a medical camp has been set up at the district centre of Gulberg, Liaqatabad and New Karachi for providing necessary medical care, the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

It said the dewatering of more than 36 sites in Karachi had been completed while cooked meals covering 10,000 people had been distributed among flood victims in various areas.

Meanwhile, army engineers completed the enhancement of the bund along M9 near the Northern Bypass to avoid flooding.

Army troops also filled a breach in the Malir River near Quaidabad, according to the ISPR.

"Pakistan Army engineer boats are busy in shifting people to safer places," the statement said.

A relief and medical camp has also been established in Latifabad area of Hyderabad. Food was provided to the affected population while army engineers were busy in dewatering various areas, it added.

According to the ISPR, army troops "have been forwardly placed at Dadu for any eventuality and spillover at Nai Gaj Dam".

The banks of Puran Nullah in tehsil Jhudo of Mirpurkhas district had been damaged due to heavy rains, as a result of which water entered the nearest five villages. However, the breach was plugged with the combined efforts of army troops and civil administration to stop the flow of water to these areas, the ISPR said.

Authorities urge residents to stay indoors

Many major arteries witnessed severe traffic jams across the city and many areas of Karachi were experiencing power outages.

Some areas of the city have been without power for more than 10 hours now.

Urban flooding led to the closure of the KPT underpass in Clifton as well as the Punjab Colony, Liaquatabad, Nazimabad and Ghareebabad underpasses for traffic, according to the Traffic Police. The situation caused traffic jams on surrounding roads.

According to the Met Office, the city will continue to receive rain until tonight.

Power was suspended in several areas as a precautionary measure, the Karachi Electric's spokesperson said.

Noting that there was "heavy rain and severe flooding" across Karachi, the KE, in a tweet, said: "Power shutdown in effect for public safety as streets, houses and buildings flooded. In this crisis please be prepared for prolonged shutdowns as power restoration is dependent on water receding."

Additionally, Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Suhail Rajput urged people not to leave their homes.

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Meanwhile, Sindh Rangers have urged residents to call helpline 1101 or contact on 0347-9001111 via WhatsApp for assistance, Radio Pakistan reported. Residents can also call Edhi Centre at 115 and Chhipa at 1020.

Due to power outages, Edhi's 115 helpline service was affected, the organisation said in a statement, adding that rainwater had also entered the Edhi control room.

A relief and rescue operation by the Sindh Rangers is underway. Rangers are also coordinating with NGOs to distribute ration packages in areas where food supply has been affected.

Quoting the Rangers spokesperson, Radio Pakistan reported that teams have been constituted to hasten the rescue operation.

'Disastrous situation'

Chief Minister Shah, in a statement, said that the incessant, heavy downpour has caused a "disastrous situation" in Karachi.

He further said that due to overflowing of water in Malir and Sukkun Nadi, residents have been stranded, directing authorities to take measures to rescue them. He further said that schools in the area be vacated so stranded residents can be housed in the buildings.

He also instructed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority to provide food, water and other essential items.

Amid criticism of the Sindh government, Shah in a second statement in the evening denied what he called "the impression that the city has been left helpless".

He said government teams had been supervising the rescue work throughout the day but the accumulated water could not be drained unless there was a break in the rain.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail termed the situation "unusual and abnormal" adding that an "emergency response" was required.

In a tweet, he said that he had briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan on the situation in Karachi.

"PM is monitoring the situation and assured to take any action required," the governor said.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a tweet, said that this year, Sindh has seen the "worst monsoons in 90 years".

Bilawal also urged people to "keep all those in your thoughts who have already been working 24/7 to assist citizens during this record breaking unprecedented natural disaster".

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to Prime Minister Imran on commerce, feared the rain would hit exports.

“Our exports consignments are being delayed and hence our exports for the month of August may be affected,” Dawood said on Twitter.

Videos on social media showed roads inundated with water in DHA and some residents reported rainwater entering houses. Vehicles could be seen submerged as rain continued to lash the city.

Social media users also reported rainwater flooding the roads at Zamzama and parts of Saddar. Furthermore, containers placed for security purposes on MA Jinnah Road were also seen floating in rainwater.

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The recent monsoon spell has once again exposed the poor infrastructure in the metropolis where several areas have been submerged by rainwater, which is yet to be drained. The flooding damaged vehicles and property and resulted in the deaths of a number of people.