• KP declares emergency in four districts; villages destroyed in GB
• Houses collapse in Bajaur, relief goods dropped in south Punjab
• Efforts to restore Quetta-Punjab road link continue
• Govt decides to hold international donors’ conference
ISLAMABAD / QUETTA/ PESHAWAR: As heavy monsoon rains and flooding continued to cause widespread damage to areas across the country, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday declared a state of emergency in four districts, relief goods were airdropped in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab, dozens of families were shifted to tents in Gilgit-Baltistan after their villages were destroyed and efforts still under way to restore the National Highway link between Punjab and Balochistan.
The KP government declared a state of emergency in Dera Ismail Khan, Upper and Lower Chitral and Upper Kohistan districts, while glacier melting in Gilgit-Baltistan wreaked havoc on Hoper Valley and Nagar Khas where flooding washed away small villages of Shaman and Tokerkot rendering around 50 families homeless.
While taking stock of the deteriorating situation and reviewing relief measures in the flood-affected areas at two separate meetings, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the federal government decided to hold a donors’ conference to apprise international institutions about the devastation caused by floods as well as the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts by the federal and provincial governments.
Editorial: Rain disaster
The meeting regarding donors’ conference was attended by Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, Adviser to PM Ahad Cheema, Member of the Punjab Assembly Awais Leghari, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Akhtar Nawaz.
The prime minister ordered immediate provision of 40,000 tents and 100,000 ration packets to the flood-hot people and take measures for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood-hit areas. He also appealed the philanthropists to generously contribute to the PM’s Flood Relief Fund.
While an aerial operation for the supply of relief goods to the flood-affected areas of Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts was launched later in the day, high floods in the Indus River is expected to rise further due to Taunsa hill torrents, threatening the already battered areas of the two districts.
Also, as two primary schools near Lundi Pittafi in Muzaffargarh washed away by flooding, the district administration asked people to evacuate the Lundi Pittafi, Jhuggi Wala and Araien villages, alerting them that water flow in the Indus was more than 500,000 cusec. The administration believed the level would not start receding before August 26.
DG Khan Commissioner Mohammad Usman Anwar said relief supplies were being delivered by helicopter spared by the government for the purpose. Besides the choppers, ration, medicines and tents were being sent to the tribal area of Suleman Range through the Border Military Police and Baloch Levis, who were using camels, motorcycles and other vehicles, he said.
The commissioner said traffic on the Dera-Quetta highway — a vital trade route between Punjab and Balochistan — was still suspended due to a landslide though the National Highway Aurthority was working on it.
In Balochistan, heavy rains badly affected Quetta, Sohbatpur, Musakhail, Duki, Dera Bugti, Chaman and Loralai districts where scores of human settlements were destroyed. Hundreds of flood victims were shifted to tents and government buildings in different areas.
Corps Commander Lt-Gen Asif Ghafoor along with IG Frontier Corps (North) Major General Ameer Ajmal, Provincial Disaster Management Authority director general, Quetta division commissioner and deputy commissioner visited the flood-affected areas, including Hazara Town, and other localities which were badly affected due to hill torrents after heavy rains. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had earlier directed the corps commander to assist the provincial administration in rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the flood-stricken people.
Officials said flash floods and hill torrents were wreaking havoc on Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Jhal Magsi districts as Lehri and Mula Rivers were carrying heavy flood after more heavy rains in their hilly catchment areas of Dera Bugti, Khuzdar and other areas.
Editorial: Monsoon misery
In Nasirabad district, the Pat Feeder Canal was breached at different points inundating many villages in Sohbatpur and Nasirabad districts. The floodwater was putting pressure towards Dera Murad Jamali town, which is the divisional headquarters of Nasirabad districts and authorities were making all-out efforts to save Dera Murad Jamali as heavy floodwaters threatened to submerge the town.
Meanwhile, the KP relief, rehabilitation and settlement department issued four separate notifications announcing the imposition of emergency in four affected districts.
According to the notifications, upon the requests of the district administration and recommendations of the PDMA, the competent authority declared emergency to the extent of flood/rain affected areas of Lower and Upper Chitral, Dera Ismail Khan and Upper Kohistan districts till August 30 for carrying out relief activities.
An official statement issued here said the notifications were issued on the special directives of the KP chief minister Mahmood Khan, who would soon visit the flood-hit districts to look into the damages caused by flash floods. It said the CM would also announce a relief package for the rehabilitation of flood-affected infrastructure in the districts.
Mr Khan said he was monitoring the flood situation and was in contact with concerned district administrations. He said the district administrations had been asked to submit assessment reports of damages.
In Bajaur, two children were killed after their house collapsed due to heavy rains in Nawagai tehsil, Rescue 1122 officials and residents said. Residents told Dawn that two children of Abdul Khaliq, identified as Eman Khan, 8, and Yasra Bibi, 6, who were sleeping in the room, died on the spot.
Soon after the mishap, people of the nearby areas reached the site of incident to retrieve the bodies of victims from the debris. A team of Rescue 1112 workers also moved the area to help the residents in retrieving the bodies, said a statement issued on Monday.
Meanwhile, the government decided to hold a donors’ conference for the rehabilitation of flood affected areas of the country, as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered to provide 40,000 tents and 100,000 ration packets to the flood-hot people and said international institutions should be briefed about the devastation caused by floods as well as the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts.
He also appealed to the philanthropists to generously contribute to the PM’s Flood Relief Fund and directed the institutions concerned to speed up the rescue operation, and relief and rehabilitation process.
At a separate meeting, the prime minister was apprised by Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qaddus Bizenjo, about the flood situation in the province as well as damages it caused and the ongoing rescue and relief operation.
Manzoor Ali in Peshawar, Tariq Birmani in D.G. Khan, Tehseen Raza in Muzaffargarh, Saleem Shahid in Quetta and Jamil Nagri in Gilgit-Balitistan and Syed Irfan Raza in Islamabad contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2022