• Schools, healthcare facilities closed as south Punjab suffers widespread infrastructure damage

LAHORE / LOWER DIR / SWAT: Heavy rains and floods claimed eight lives, including six schoolchildren, in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday as various parts of the country continued to receive heavy rainfall.

At least six children were killed when they were swept away by floods, while nine other people were injured in rain related incidents as continuous torrential rains caused flooding in the Upper Dir and Swat districts, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed.

Similarly, Rescue 1122 Punjab confirmed two deaths from hill torrents; one in Dera Ghazi Khan and one in Rajanpur. The torrents have also taken their toll on the infrastructure of schools, healthcare facilities, roads, electricity lines and irrigation canals.

Read: Rain disaster: The tragedy is that leaders focus on settling political scores even as a human catastrophe unfolds

Thousands of flood-displaced people are stranded on the banks of the river and along the Indus Highway, without any shelter in the rain. Meanwhile, waist-deep water is still standing in and around the localities where they dwell.

The deaths in Punjab brought the death toll in the province to 38 during the last two weeks.

Flooding in Swat, Lower Dir

In Upper Dir, five schoolchildren drowned in a flooded stream at Kasai Shahikot in the jurisdiction of Barawal police station.

Rescuers said that the children were on their way back from school when they were washed away by rushing waters. The victims included the son and a daughter of one Syed Aman, a son and a daughter of Zakir and an unidentified child. Rescuers said that dead bodies of four of the children were found later when the water receded, while the search for the fifth child was still ongoing.

Earlier, the niece of one Haji Rahim Gul drowned in a stream at Zangian village of Samarbagh. After hectic efforts, locals managed to retrieve the body from the stream.

Similarly, a two-room house colla­p­sed due to torrential rains in the Gan­digar area of Upper Dir. The occupants, however, remained unhurt.

In addition, hundreds of school students who were trapped by flash floods in Mingora had to be rescued by locals, Rescue 1122, and civil defense teams.

Malakand Division Commissioner Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said that all the departments were actively taking part in relief activities. “Relief measures have been initiated after the water subsided and in this regard, all resources are being utilised in light of the orders of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan,” he said, adding that he was supervising all the arrangements himself.

Infrastructure damage

A large swathe of DG Khan has been submerged by water, causing widespread power supply disruptions. The loss to power transmission infrastructure here is immense, and statistics show that 640 transformers, 1,575 single phase meters and 145 three phase meters were damaged in the area during the recent heavy rains.

Mepco Superintendent Engineer (Dera Ghazi Khan) Muhammad Hasnain Shakeel told Dawn that out of the 21 subdivisions of Mepco Circle, areas in Fort Munro, Rojhan and Tubi Qaisrani were completely submerged, while Wahowa and Choti areas were 75pc under water and around half of the Shadan Lound, Dajal, Rajanpur, Shah Sadr Deen and Quetta Road areas had been inundated.

An official told Dawn that the rail track from Taunsa barrage to Rojhan has also been damaged.

The irrigation department infrastructure also was badly hit by strong waters of hill torrents in both districts. Roads and dozens of link bridges had also been washed away. Barthi Road and Taunsa-Musakhel Road are still closed and the N55 Indus Highway is in bad shape after the floods and in need of immediate repair. In all, as many as 60 roads in both districts have been washed away.

Separately, Chief Executive Officer Education Zulfiqar Malghani told Dawn that 86 schools were hit by floodwaters and closed in Dera Ghazi Khan district, while an official from Rajanpur claimed that 60pc of the schools in the district had been submerged and the remaining converted into relief camps.

Editorial: Rain disaster

Chief Executive Officer Health Dr Abdul Karim told Dawn that 30 health facilities, including basic health units and rural health centres had been badly affected by downpours and hill torrents in Dera Ghazi Khan. In Rajanpur, he said, 60pc of health infrastructure had been hit by floods.

In addition, a large stock of wheat stored by the food department in Fazilpur and Shahdan Lound has been destroyed.

Relief activities

The Punjab government has started provision of relief goods including food and medicine in flood hit areas of districts Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.

However, locals complained that while they saw vehicles carrying food and shelter, the bureaucracy was distributing the items in their preferred areas.

In Lahore, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi presided over the Disaster Management Ministerial Committee meeting being held at the Chief Minister’s Office, where relief activities relating to the flood affected areas in Rajanpur, Taunsa and Dera Ghazi Khan came under review.

In pictures: Torrential rains flood Hyderabad, bring life to standstill

The CM directed Chief Secretary Kamran Afzal to visit the flood affected areas forthwith and further directed him to oversee the relief activities for the flood affectees.

He also ordered that rescue and relief operations be expedited and all institutions should help the flood hit population.

A Rescue 1122 officer told Dawn that relief activities were initiated on Wednesday, adding that they were providing boats to the district administration to transport bags of food and medicine.

He said he had seen any NGO providing help to flood victims in Rajanpur.

Meanwhile, DG Khan Deputy Commissioner Anwar Baryar on Wednesday ordered that roads be cleared of land sliding and bridges be repaired.

The work on restoring Indus Highway was also started and the work would be completed till August 27.

Tariq Saeed Birmani in DG Khan, Malik Tahseen Raza in Muzaffargarh and Muhammad Irfan Mughal in DI Khan also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2022

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