Floods wreak havoc across Punjab; more thundershowers forecast

Published August 30, 2020
Vehicles passing through rain water accumulated on Sargodha Road near General Bus Stand after heavy monsoon rains in Faisalabad. — APP
Vehicles passing through rain water accumulated on Sargodha Road near General Bus Stand after heavy monsoon rains in Faisalabad. — APP

LAHORE: As heavy rainfall lashed the village of Sudhra, near Gujranwala, rickshaw driver Muhammad Shafi’s life changed forever. He was saving up to fix the dilapidated roof of his rented house, but the rains did not wait.

On Friday morning, tragedy struck when the roof suddenly caved in, killing both his children — eight-year-old Nayab and 10-year-old Atiqur Rehman — and badly injuring his wife.

In another incident, a man, his wife and son were all killed after a roof collapsed in Lahore. The family was staying at a relative’s and sleeping in a room whose roof was sagging. All three were buried under the debris.

As per Rescue 1122 data, around 32 people have died in building collapses since Aug 20, 88 were shifted to hospitals and 35 received first aid.

Farooq Ahmed, the Rescue 1122 spokesperson, says: “We have witnessed that there are mostly two types of building collapses due to monsoon rains. Most of them happen because the structure of the building is weak and is in a low-lying area prone to accumulation of rainwater. The other type of collapse happens because of old age of the building or structure. Many are from the time of Partition and they cannot take heavy rain.”

Over 100 villages inundated, hundreds of acres of crops damaged

Meanwhile, floods have been reported across Punjab, damaging houses and crops in many areas. According to the hourly flood report of Saturday, no lives were lost although two people were shifted to hospital in critical condition in Bhalwal and Bhera tehsils.

Around 872 people were evacuated owing to a threat of flood, with several points along the Chenab and Jhelum swelling. At least 60 rescue teams and 326 rescuers saved villagers and their belongings, and still many areas are under the threat of flood.

The Met department has issued a weather advisory from Aug 29 to 31 about the likelihood of rain and thundershowers in Punjab, including Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Khanpur, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Khanewal and Sahiwal.

The heavy downpour may generate flash flood in Dera Ghazi Khan with hill torrents destroying any villages below.

According to reports from Sargodha, the situation in some villages on the outskirts is alarming. The Jhelum has swelled immensely and several villages, houses as well as standing crops near the outskirts, such as Shahpur and Khushab, have been badly damaged.

“A flood with around 90,000 cusecs of water in the river passed from here on Friday,” says Dawn correspondent Sajjad Niazi.

“Usually, it is not more than 30,000 cusecs. This kind of flood has appeared after three years.”

The Met department’s Flood Division has stated that a depression presently located over northeast Madhya Pradesh and the approaching westerly wave from Iran are likely to affect the upper catchments of rivers Indus, Kabul, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and, up to some extent, Sutlej from the night of Aug 31. The Chenab at Trimmu is likely to attain medium to high flood level on Aug 30. Flows are also likely to increase in all the major rivers from Sept 1.

SIALKOT: Ten villages of Sambrial tehsil were inundated and crops over hundreds of acres badly damaged due to a breach in the dyke of the flooded Nullah Aik near village Chohdo Chak of Bhopalwala.

Nullah Aik was reported to be in high flood that created a breach in its dyke. Rescue 1122 established a flood emergency camp at Chohdo Chak village and started repairing the breach.

Deputy Commissioner Dr Nasir Mehmood Bashir said efforts were also under way to repair the washed away bridge over flooded Nullah Palkhu near Bharath village, adding that a temporary bridge had been established. He claimed water was receding in rivers Chenab, Tavi and Jammu as well as in the seasonal nullahs.

CHINIOT: Hundreds of villagers were evacuated as floodwater from River Chenab entered 50 villages in the district. The river witnessed 250,000 cusecs of water that displaced populations and damaged crops near both its banks.

Some 50 low-lying villages were affected, however the district administration had made prior arrangements for evacuation. They had started shifting people, their cattle and belongings to safer areas on Friday night from the villages under threat.

Hundreds of acres of crops were badly affected with floodwater up to five feet high entering the fields. A number of government schools were also inundated however their record was saved.

Moreover, nine relief camps had been established in various localities where health, livestock, Rescue 1122, agriculture, revenue, civil defense and police departments were helping people. A central flood control room was also established in the deputy commissioner’s office.

JHANG: Families evacuating their homes along with their cattle and other valuables from either banks of rivers Chenab or Jhelum, fearing a medium to high flood in them in the next few hours, are facing hardships in getting shelter or fodder for their cattle in the absence of any assistance from the district administration.

At least a hundred villages situated close to the banks of rivers Jhelum and Chenab are facing threats due to possible flood. Those who have relatives away from the river have found temporary shelter, while others are awaiting help from the authorities, who may be occupied with Muharram duties and have failed to establish relief camps or provide food and medicines to the displaced persons and their cattle.

(Our correspondents from Sialkot, Chiniot and Jhang contributed to the report)

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2020

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