Lasbela: Heavy monsoon rains and flash floods washed away the road and bridge between Dureji and Hub, suspending traffic and cutting off Dureji from other parts of the district.—Dawn
Lasbela: Heavy monsoon rains and flash floods washed away the road and bridge between Dureji and Hub, suspending traffic and cutting off Dureji from other parts of the district.—Dawn

• Met warns of ‘strong weather activity’ over Karachi, Balochistan, Arabian Sea
• Balochistan marooned after flash floods block highways, wash away roads
• PM announces Rs1m for victim families, relieved that dams are still secure
• Four killed in KP, GB in rain-related incidents

QUETTA/ GILGIT / PESHAWAR: Disaster management authorities are bracing for another spell of torrential rains, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan, in anticipation of a “vigorous monsoon” as rain lashed parts of Balochistan, triggering another wave of flash floods in the southwestern province on Thursday.

The alert issued by the National Disaster Management Authority was prompted by a statement issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), which predicted “strong weather activity” over the next three days in Karachi, Hub Dam catchment areas (which encompasses parts of Balochistan), and the Arabian Sea.

The current spell of monsoon rains, which has claimed over 160 lives since it started earlier this month, also resulted in four more deaths on Thursday — three in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one in Gilgit-Baltistan.

In GB, one person was killed and 13 others — residents of Swat — were injured after a van reportedly skidded off a slippery road near Babusar Pass, whereas in Lakki Marwat and Mansehra districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three people drowned, as per the rescue officials.

Balochistan marooned

At the time of filing, reports from Balochistan painted a bleak picture as the northern and central parts of the province suffered infrastructural damages due to the heavy downpour.

Many towns and cities of the province remained cut off from Quetta and other district headquarters due to flooding. The rain also disconnected Balochistan from Punjab and Sindh as the highway linking Sukkur with Quetta and Dera Ghazi Khan (Punjab) with Loralai remained closed due to the rain.

As a precautionary measure, local authorities closed the highway linking Quetta with Sukkur after Bolan, Nari and other rivers overflowed and damaged the highway near Bolan.

“We have decided to close the road for overnight travelling as floodwater damaged the highway at different points,” Mansoor Qazi, Sibi deputy commissioner said. The DC said the floodwater from the Nari River was heading towards villages in the area.

Editorial: Rain disaster

He said the villages were being evacuated in the face of potential flooding due to the overflowing of the Nari River. The irrigation officials said that the catchment areas of Nari, Bolan and other seasonal rivers were receiving heavy monsoon rains in Harnai, Ziarat, Duki and Sanjavi towns.

Similarly, Dera Bugti and Kohlu areas were also receiving heavy rains which flooded the Lehri River and seasonal streams.

The traffic between Balochistan and Punjab was also badly affected due to heavy downpour in Loralai and Dera Ghazi Khan (Punjab). The tourists who went to Fort Munro were still stuck due to the heavy rain that suspended traffic between Barkhan, Musakhail and Dera Ghazi Khan. At the filing of this report, the officials said that efforts were underway to rescue the tourists stranded in the area.

Rainfall was also reported in Harnai, Ziarat, Muslim Bagh, Qila Saifullah, Qila Abdullah, Zhob, Karez Qamardddin and Danasar areas of Sherani and Zhob districts.

Officials said that the traffic was also suspended between Harnai and Quetta as the road linking the area with the provincial capital was washed away at different points. The traffic was also affected on Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan Road.

However, no loss of life was reported in Balochistan until the filing of this report.

NDMA urges vigilance

In its advisory, NDMA specifically mentioned the management of Hub Dam – the third largest dam in Pakistan situated at least 50km away from Karachi – and advised the authorities to ensure “safe discharge of water” and to accommodate additional inflow of water from the catchment areas -- Dadu district, Khirthar National Park, Saruna, Dureji and the Shah Noorani area in Balochistan -- likely to receive torrential rainfall.

It advised departments to remain vigilant to ensure timely evacuation of “at-risk population downstream in case of any emergency”. It also warned the fisher folk of Sindh and Balochistan to avoid the open sea for the time being.

PM’s package

Similarly, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the NDMA chairperson to increase the presence of officials in the flood-hit areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as he promised Rs1 million to the families of the people killed as a result of rainfall after a joint survey. He ordered the acting chief of NDMA to immediately reach Quetta and support the provincial government to rehabilitate the flood affectees.

Calling for coordinated efforts between the federal and provincial governments, he warned there would be no room for complacency. The premier said all dams were “safe and secure and the situation was being monitored” round the clock.

Separately, in a statement, the Punjab PDMA warned that the rain spell will continue for the next four days. It said the system started weakening in upper parts of the province and getting reinforced in south Punjab. In the next hours, rains will lash central to south Punjab and Sindh, it added.

Zaki Abbas in Islamabad, Nisar Ahmed in Mansehra and Ghulam Mursalin Marwat in Lakki Marwat also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2022

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