Two die as rains cause urban flooding in capital

Published July 29, 2021
(Clockwise from top) Vehicles being swept away by the flash floods in E-11, sanitary workers clear waste from a road left behind by the gushing water, people walk past a fallen transformer while local administration officials monitor Leh Nullah from the Gawalmandi bridge in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad & Mohammad Asim
(Clockwise from top) Vehicles being swept away by the flash floods in E-11, sanitary workers clear waste from a road left behind by the gushing water, people walk past a fallen transformer while local administration officials monitor Leh Nullah from the Gawalmandi bridge in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad & Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: A woman and her son died on Wednesday after flash floods caused by overnight rain swept through several streets and houses in E-11, damaging vehicles and properties.

On the other hand, the Met Office predicted more rains in Potohar region on Thursday.

Talking to Dawn, residents of E-11/3 said illegal construction on the bank of a nullah had narrowed its width, hampering water flow and causing it to swell.

Because of the gushing floodwaters, the wall of a house, located in street 2 of the sector collapsed, which resulted in the drowning of a woman and her son.

A family of five was residing there, out of whom three were rescued.

A man introducing himself as the domestic help of the family told Dawn that in fact three families lived in the house.

Rawal Dam spillways opened. Met Office predicts more rain today

“The five-member family of Kashif Bajwa resided in the basement while his mother lived on the mezzanine floor and his elder brother and his family on the first storey,” he said.

At the time of the incident, Mr Bajwa’s wife, two sons and daughter were in the basement, he said, adding that floodwater filled the basement within seconds trapping the family.

However, two of them climbed on to cupboards, the domestic help said, adding that Maria Bibi and her nine-year-old son were swept away. Anaya and Abdullah were later rescued.

The remaining inmates have shifted to G-10, he said.

In a video, one of the residents of the house can be seen complaining to officials of the police and capital administration about the delay in rescue work and dewatering the basement.

The resident is heard saying, “the incident took place at 6:30am and now it is 11:30am and you (officials) are still claiming the machinery is coming”.

Another man, who introduced himself as Abdullah, said he saw three vehicles – Honda Civic, Toyota Grande and Passo – being swept away in the floodwater and falling into a nullah.

Traders also found the basements of their plazas filled with water. They also complained about the late arrival of rescue workers and machinery to drain the basements.

Rawalpindi

Heavy rain raised the water level in Leh Nullah and also inundated low-lying areas in the garrison city, forcing the Small Dams Organisation to open spillways of Rawal Dam.

Army personnel, who had been called in to deal with any kind of emergency, were stationed in Gawalmandi, Murree Road and other areas.

Water level in Leh Nullah was recorded up to 21 feet in Kattarian and 17 feet in Gawalmandi, compelling the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) and district administration to issue warning to residents living along its to shift to safer places.

According to the Met Office, 123mm of rain was recorded in Saidpur, 77mm at Zero point, 107mm in Golra, 23mm in Bokra while Islamabad International Airport and its surrounding areas received 16mm of rain. Similarly, rain recorded in Rawalpindi’s Shamsabad area was 34 mm and 36mm in Chaklala.

In his tweet, Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Hamza Shafqaat said: “Cloudburst in Islamabad has caused flooding in various areas. Teams are clearing nullahs/roads. Hopefully we will be able to clear everything in an hour.” Later, the DC announced that Islamabad roads were clear for traffic.

Pakistan Meteorological Department, on the other hand, denied that it was a cloudburst.

In a statement, the PMD spokesman said: “It is to clarify that the weather system was forecast earlier vide weather advisory issued by PMD on July 26 and was disseminated to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and print and electronic media. This was extensive heavy rainfall and cannot be termed a cloudburst.”

He said Islamabad and its surrounding areas received heavy downpour of monsoon during the morning hours from 5am to 6:30am while light rain continued in the surrounding areas till night. The situation of Leh Nullah at Kattarian and Gawalmandi is returning back to normal, he added.

Meanwhile, after getting approval from the local administration, the Rawal Dam management on Wednesday night opened spillways to discharge additional water.

The official told Dawn that water level of the dam had crossed the limit of 1,752 feet after which the management opened the spillways.

Wasa Managing Director Raja Shaukat Mehmood, meanwhile, said the local administration was monitoring the water level at Leh Nullah.

He said Wasa had moved machinery to rain-affected areas to pump out water from roads and streets, adding that till afternoon, water was drained out and people started plying on roads and streets without any fear.

All roads in the city including Pirwadhai, Moti Mahal and Committee Chowk underpasses were flooded while rainwater entered several houses and shops in Bohar Bazaar, Moti Bazaar, Sadiqabad, Javed Colony, Arya Mohallah, Chandni Chowk, Dhoke Hassu, Dhoke Elahi Bux, Nadeem Colony, Commercial Market, Jamia Masjid Road, Murree Road and other localities.

However, water level in Soan River remained normal in the morning but after the spillways were opened, the level increased, and water entered houses in low-lying areas along the banks of Soan River.

The last devastating flood that Leh Nullah witnessed was on July 23, 2001. Just a few hours of 620mm of rain resulted in the worst floods in the city’s history in which 35 people were killed and many slums were swept away.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed accompanied by Commissioner Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah and Deputy Commissioner Aamir Aqiq Khan visited Gawalmandi to inspect the arrangements to avoid flood.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021

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