KARACHI: At least four people were killed and several others injured in multiple incidents, including the collapse of concrete structures, following a dust storm and drizzle in the city on Tuesday.
The dust storm hit the metropolis around 4.30pm under the influence of Cyclone Tauktae, after scorching weather conditions prevailed during the earlier part of the day. Power was cut in many parts of the city after the first drops of rain, while high-velocity winds also shook structures.
A woman and a man died when the roof of their home collapsed in Madina Colony. The area police said that 45-year-old Waheed and 55-year-old Salma died when the roof of their home in Dabba Colony near Habib Masjid collapsed. The bodies were taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi by area people.
A nine-year-old boy met the same fate in Shershah Colony when he came under the rubble of his house’s roof in Street 28 of the locality. The victim remained unidentified.
More light rain likely today
In Baldia Town 45-year-old Nasir Usman died from the same cause at his home near the G-27 bus terminal.
Officials, rescue workers and volunteers of charity organisations said that the collapsed structures were already weak and Tuesday’s dust storm and rains further eroded them.
“This is the only reason we see behind the roof collapse,” said an official.
Strong winds brought down glass cladding on the United Bank Limited building on I.I. Chundrigar Road.
The video of the incident went viral on social media showing layers of glass claddings falling down one after another seconds after the dust storm with strong winds hit the city.
A UBL official confirmed the incident but denied any loss due to the falling pieces of glass. He said the building management immediately took notice of the situation and made all possible protection arrangements to prevent any major damage or any kind of loss on the ground.
Power supply to a large number of city areas went out minutes after the dust storm hit the metropolis. Though the supply was restored to several parts of the city within an hour, there were a number of areas which remained without power for hours.
However, the city’s sole power supply utility, K-Electric, insisted that the operation of the company remained intact and only a few areas were facing outages due to “technical faults”.
“Due to the severe dust storm, electricity supply was affected in a few areas of Karachi,” said its announcement on the company’s social media platform. “Teams are working for quick restoration. Around 300 feeders out of 1,900 feeders are affected. Our field teams are working on-ground around the clock to ensure consistent power supply to our customers.”
The same platform also carried a video message from an official of the company saying that the system of power supply was completely intact and every possible effort was being made to ensure power supply across the city.
“In these severe weather conditions, our teams are working round the clock,” he said. “We have witnessed a surge in demand and complaints during peak hours. We face some issues while ensuring power supply is uninterrupted. Safety is on top among them and that issue emerges due to the use of illegal connections or Kunda. But still we are on the ground and fixing all these problems.”
Hot, humid weather
Influenced by the dissipating cyclonic storm Tauktae in the region, Karachi was hit by a severe dust storm late on Tuesday afternoon followed by light rain in some areas, breaking the three-day hot spell.
The maximum temperature recorded was 41.5 degrees Celsius.
“The impact of the (dissipating) cyclonic storm coinciding with some local factors, which developed due to the hot spell, led to the dust storm and rain in some parts of the city,” said Sardar Sarfaraz of the Meteorological department.
According to him, the storm had not dissipated rapidly contrary to the expectations and the weather conditions were “a bit uncertain right now”.
“While the storm has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm, it still persists with intensity over parts of Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. This means we may have light rain tomorrow.”
The Met department has forecast hot and humid weather for Wednesday with the maximum temperature ranging between 36 and 38 degrees Celsius.
It recorded a 7mm rainfall at the Masroor Base, 5.8mm in Surjani Town and 1mm each in Saddar and Nazimabad.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2021