Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Saturday visited the K-Electric (KE) head office to take the company to task over continued power outages in numerous areas of Karachi despite the passage of nearly two days since torrential rains lashed the city.
His visit came as eight more people were found to have lost their lives in various rain-related incidents, taking the overall death toll in the record-breaking monsoon spell to 48, officials said.
Numerous key arteries and underpasses, especially in the city's downtown, and several residential areas were still inundated. Some neighbourhoods remained without power even as work continued to restore supply lines.
The crisis-like situation led the Sindh government to declare 20 districts of the province, including all six districts of Karachi, as "calamity-affected areas".
A notification issued by the provincial Relief Department said the deputy commissioners of the districts which have been declared calamity-hit "shall immediately assess specific losses and move for compensation".
At the KE office, Chief Minister Shah was given a briefing on the power supply situation by KE Chief Executive Officer Moonis Alvi.
"What kind of service is this that power remains absent for 30-35 hours?" Shah was quoted as saying in a statement by his office.
Noting that electricity had yet to be restored in DHA, Clifton and many other areas, the chief minister expressed the fear that citizens could "create a law and order situation" out of frustration. He said people were already protesting against the outages.
Shah, who also visited the KE control room, was informed by its CEO that 1,615 out of the power utility's 1,900 feeders were functional.
Alvi said that KE could not restore power when four feet of water was standing in some areas.
KE officials also informed the chief minister that many streets in DHA were inundated due to which "residents themselves are advising against turning on power", according to the statement.
They said the power utility could restore 50 per cent of DHA's 66 feeders by midnight to 1am if water was cleared from the area,
Acknowledging the problem, Shah made a telephone call to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board managing director, directing him to immediately take measures to dewater DHA and other areas, the statement said.
Editorial: Orphan city
The chief minister also visited the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and met its administrator to discuss the water-logging in DHA.
A statement issued by his office said Shah had "mobilised Water Board and KMC" to help CBC to dewater DHA and remove water from KE sub-stations.
It added that the chief minister and the CBC administrator formed a coordination committee comprising Excise Minister Mukesh Chawla and Murtaza Wahab from the Sindh government and two senior officers of the CBC to install machinery to dewater the area.
Minister says in touch with KE
Earlier in the day, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail discussed the city's power situation in phone calls with Energy Minister Omar Ayub and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Power Shahzad Qasim.
Upon being informed about residents' suffering by Ismail, Ayub told him that his ministry was in contact with KE and had directed the power utility to restore power in the city by the evening.
Ismail also called the KE CEO, telling him that the failure to restore electricity despite the passage of two days was "beyond comprehension". He asked Alvi to ensure immediate resumption of power supply, according to a statement.
In an update in the evening, KE said "nearly 90pc" of its nearly 1,900 feeders had been restored "through coordinated efforts", but added that accumulated rain and sewage water "continued to obstruct restoration efforts".
"Our restoration efforts are being affected at several locations due to the presence of stagnant rain and gutter water in substations and meter-room," the company said earlier in the day, adding that it was "coordinating closely" with the local authorities so that necessary drainage could be done before switching on power.
Eight more die
Eight more people died, half of them from drowning, in rain-related incidents, in the metropolis, police and rescue officials said on Saturday.
The body of a woman was found floating in Malir river at Korangi Crossing, which was retrieved and sent to Edhi Home in Korangi. She was identified with the help of her jewellery as Sabira Ahmed, aged around 40 to 45 years, according to the chairman of Korangi union council-37, Mushtaq Tanoli.
Ibrahim Hyderi SHO Raza Solangi said the woman had drowned in the river along with a relative, whose whereabouts were still unknown.
In another incident, the body of a man who drowned was recovered and sent to Edhi Home where he was identified by his relatives as Amjad, in his early 50s, Tanoli said. He was riding a motorcycle on his way from Bhittai Colony to Qayyumabad when strong currents swept him away. The deceased was stated to be a close relative of a senior official of the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department.
The UC chairman who is part of a rescue team said they had recovered seven motorcycles from the stream and he apprehended that 10 to 12 people were still missing who might have drowned in the Malir river.
The body of a man, identified as Bilal Yaqoob, 24, who died after drowning in a drain in Junejo Town was retrieved in Manzoor Colony and shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, according to Baloch Colony police.
Saeedabad police said an unidentified body of a boy aged around 16 years was found in a pond of rainwater in Musharraf Colony and was shifted to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi.
A 40-year-old woman, Ishrat Jehan, died when she suffered an electric shock inside her home in Sector 14-D of Orangi Town, according to Chhipa officials.
A man died after being electrocuted in Natha Khan Goth; he was identified as Ghazi Khan, 50.
Another 50-year-old man, Noor Husain, died when he suffered an electric shock inside his home at Aath Chowk in Lyari area on Saturday evening, according to Chhipa. The body was shifted to the Civil Hospital Karachi.
A 26-year-old, Alam Zeb, also died of electrocution at a house located on Sunset Boulevard in DHA in the evening. His body was shifted to the JPMC to fulfil legal formalities.
Many roads flooded
The KPT and Punjab Chowrangi underpasses in Clifton, which were closed for traffic on Thursday, remained filled with rainwater on Saturday.
Numerous streets in Clifton and DHA, I.I. Chundrigar Road and Aiwan-i-Sadar, where the Sindh Governor House is located, besides other thoroughfares were also flooded, making commute difficult for travellers.
In a tweet, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said work was underway to drain water from the KPT and Punjab Chowrangi underpasses.
"With electricity being restored in certain areas, pumping work is being expedited," he said, adding that the underpass at the juncture of Shahrea Faisal and Rashid Minhas Road had also been opened for traffic.
Funds to be provided for Karachi: FM Qureshi
Addressing the Hussania Conference iN Multan on Saturday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed sympathies for Karachi, which he noted was going through a lot of difficulties in the aftermath of the rains.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to make available whatever financial assistance was required for Karachi and "solid planning" would be carried out to improve the city's situation.
Qureshi said some rulers due to their "personal interests" and in order to "fill their coffers" had not carried out any planning for civic amenities in some areas.