Six killed as ‘abnormal’ rains refuse to relent

Published July 25, 2022
(CLOCKWISE from left) The Karakoram Highway is closed to traffic near Jutal, in Gilgit, after a landslide; hundreds of commuters from Hyderabad are marooned in the Shah Noorani area of Hub, a district in Balochistan, after heavy rains washed away a bridge; a motorcyclist in Karachi is stranded in the city’s business district after rains forced public transport off the road; flash floods submerge homes at Kandia village, in Mansehra district; and, heavy machinery is used to drain stagnant water in Hyderabad.—Distric
(CLOCKWISE from left) The Karakoram Highway is closed to traffic near Jutal, in Gilgit, after a landslide; hundreds of commuters from Hyderabad are marooned in the Shah Noorani area of Hub, a district in Balochistan, after heavy rains washed away a bridge; a motorcyclist in Karachi is stranded in the city’s business district after rains forced public transport off the road; flash floods submerge homes at Kandia village, in Mansehra district; and, heavy machinery is used to drain stagnant water in Hyderabad.—Distric

• Holiday declared in Karachi, Hyderabad divisions; port city records up to 142mm rain
• Dozens of villages in Balochistan flooded; Hub Dam filled to brim
• KP villages remain submerged
• Landslide, flooding in Gilgit

ISLAMABAD: Citizens across the country endured another spell of “abnormal” monsoon rains on Sunday as heavy downpour claimed six lives — three in Karachi — and caused urban flooding in major cities and flash floods in mountainous regions, putting several villages at risk of inundation.

In order to mitigate the impact of the downpour, the Sindh chief minister declared the latest spell a “natural calamity” and announced a holiday in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions on Monday (today) in order to “meet the emergency-like situation” stemming from excessive rainfall in the province, especially in the provincial capital.

Still reeling from the previous spell that had brought life to a standstill in the city, Karachi received a record deluge — up to 142 millimetres — that resulted in the death of three people, due to electrocution, and urban flooding in neighbourhoods across the provincial city.

Read: Karachi's crumbling infrastructure has made rain a bane for its residents

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two people — one each in Dera Ismail Khan and Lower Dir — were killed and 10 injured as a result of a heavy downpour that resulted in floods whereas a boy was killed in Lahore in a rain-related incident.

As residents from remote parts pointed out the apathy of government officials, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to assist the provincial governments and the departments concerned, PM’s Office media wing said in a press release. The prime minister urged the elected representatives to “supervise the rescue and relief activities launched by the relevant departments”, said a statement.

Sindh

In Sindh, Karachi fared worst as rain lashed the city throughout the evening turning its streets and major arteries into canals.

Many underpasses in Karachi remained submerged and closed for vehicular traffic, while Karachi University and the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi also cancelled exams scheduled for Monday (today) in light of the rain forecast.

Similarly, a breach in Hub Canal caused panic in Surjani Town and Manghopir localities.

In Hyderabad, heavy downpour brought most parts of the city to a halt. The rain started in the wee hours of Sunday and continued till 7:30 pm intermittently. The Met department predicted more rain as dark clouds covered the city sky.

A second spell of the rain which lasted for over an hour proved disastrous as it brought life to a standstill and forced markets to suspend operations due to urban flooding. “Our entire market was closed after heavy rain started around 4 pm on Sunday”, said Mohammad Fahim, a cloth merchant said.

In Mirpur Khas and Benazirabad, after a night-long spell, the rainwater damaged roads and entered houses. Additionally, Dadu was facing a “flood-like situation” Kheer Thar mountain range received heavy downpour that filled small dams in the region to the brim.

Dozens of villages in union councils Haji Khan, Sawro, Drigh Bala, Wahi Pandhi, Chhinni, and Tando Rahim Yar Khan were flooded whereas at least 24 houses collapsed in Chhni and Shah Hasan union councils. More than 200 villages have been completely cut off from the headquarters Johi, Dadu district.

Due to continuous rains in the mountainous area of Jamshoro and Thana Bola Khan, the land route of the residents of more than 70 rural areas of five union councils was also cut off.

Balochistan

In Balochistan, the authorities issued a high alert after heavy rain in catchment areas of the Hub Dam.

“Heavy flash floods are approaching the dam after the catchment areas of Hub Dam, including Sarona, Dureji, Winder, Bala and other areas received heavy rains for the last 16 hours,” Lasbela Deputy Commissioner Iftikhar Bugti told Dawn.

“We have issued a high alert to the population of nearby villages to immediately shift to safer places as flash floods would reach the dam in the next few hours,” he said on Sunday evening while speaking to Dawn. According to the deputy commissioner, the floods could put over a dozen villages at risk. “We are helping the families to shift to safer places,” Mr Bugti said.

Meanwhile, about 300 pilgrims, including women and children, were stranded at Shah Noorani Shrine after a bridge on the Viraab River was washed away in a flash flood. Officials said the Pakistan Navy was helping the local administration to rescue the pilgrims.

The flooding also affected pillars of the Hub Dam protection wall prompting the National Highway Authority (NHA) to close the bridge for traffic between Hub and Karachi.

Heavy rains were also reported in Loralai, Ziarat, Harnai, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, and many towns and cities of central Balochistan.

Punjab

Several districts in south Punjab and some in central parts of the province were pounded by rain which killed one boy and injured two more: the boy died after lightning struck him in Jhang while two people were injured in a roof collapse in Faisalabad.

A breach in a canal flooded several villages and farmland in Bahawalnagar whereas rain over the Koh-e-Suleman mountain range caused damage to 14 villages in Rajanpur and Dera Ghazi Khan.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Parts of KP remained submerged throughout as rain-induced floods destroyed houses and infrastructure in Dera Ismail Khan, Chitral, and Kohistan region. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, almost 200 to 250 houses were affected by floods in Chandana, Jathan Wala and Tilkan villages of Dera Ismail Khan.

In Lower Chitral, a flash flood was reported in Shishikoh, Gobore, Danin, and Bamborate valleys while Upper Chitral Booni and Terich areas also reported flooding.

In Kohistan, Karakorum Highway at Uchar has been blocked for all types of traffic as floods washed away infrastructure in various villages of tehsil Kandia.

Gilgit

Flash floods also wreak havoc in Gilgit-Baltistan as houses, roads, agricultural land, standing crops, trees, irrigation channels, infrastructures, and power grid suffered losses across the region.

As a result of the downpour, a flooded nullah damaged property in Sherqila village. This is the second flood in this village during the current month. Floods destroyed electricity and water supply facilities in the area and left dozens of families homeless.

Flash floods created disasters in Bagrote, Bulchi, Sultanabad, Jutial, Nomal and other areas of the Gilgit district in addition to the Hamochal village of Punial.

A road connecting Ghizer and Gilgit was blocked after a landslide whereas the Karakoram Highway was also blocked in the Sultanabad area, spelling hardships for locals and tourists alike.

Imran Ayub in Karachi, Jamil Nagri in Gilgit, Saleem Shahid in Quetta, Mohammad Hussain Khan in Hyderabad, and Manzoor Ali in Peshawar contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2022

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