Rain emergency declared in several KP districts as residents brace for ‘high to very high’ floods

Published August 26, 2022
A view of a flooded restaurant at Bypass Road in Mingora, Swat. — Photo by Fazal Khaliq
A view of a flooded restaurant at Bypass Road in Mingora, Swat. — Photo by Fazal Khaliq
Floods in Swat sweep away houses, hotels and bridges leading to massive destruction. — DawnNewsTV
Floods in Swat sweep away houses, hotels and bridges leading to massive destruction. — DawnNewsTV
Flash floods wreak havoc in Bisham, Shangla. — Photo by Umar Bacha
Flash floods wreak havoc in Bisham, Shangla. — Photo by Umar Bacha

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has declared a rain emergency in several districts of the province with immediate effect till August 30 after the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) warned of “high to very high floods” in the Swat River.

Key developments:

  • Emergency declared in several KP districts till Aug 30 in view of floods
  • Bridges, schools, power houses and hotels swept away by floods in Swat, neighbouring areas
  • At least 12 dead in Swat; four dead in Shangla
  • Government and private schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa closed until further notice
  • Nazim calls for rescue of families stranded in Kohistan’s Ranolia
  • PTI chairman Imran Khan visits flood-affected areas in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank
  • Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announces Rs15 billion grant for Sindh
  • Balochistan loses communication with rest of the country after overnight rains
  • EU announces 1.8m euros in aid for Pakistan
  • Military to be deployed in all four provinces for relief efforts
  • PMD warns River Indus could swell by 550,000-700,000 cusecs at Kalabagh and Chashma tomorrow

The decision was taken after flash floods wreaked havoc in Swat, Shangla, Mingora, Kohistan and other areas. Videos circulating on social media show hotels, link roads, suspension bridges, houses, hospitals, schools, mini power stations, and water mills being completely washed away as residents scramble to find refuge.

Meanwhile, at least 12 people died in flash floods while dozens of others were reportedly injured in the different parts of Swat on Friday.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Swat Ibrar Wazir confirmed to Dawn.com that at least 24 bridges and 50 hotels were washed away by floods.

According to local residents of Gwalerai village, seven people died after the roof of their house caved in due to heavy rain in Chatekal area of Gwalerai Union Council. One body of a man was found from a stream in the Aghal area, another dead body was recovered from the Swat river in Durushkhela area, the third body was found in Kalakot, the fourth was recovered from Chamanlalai area. One man was swept away by the Swat River.

A Rescue 1122 official confirmed the toll, but didn’t want to be named as he said the toll could rise.

According to the PDMA, 251 people have died in the floods across KP since June, while over 19,000 houses have been completely destroyed. The number is approaching 1,000 across the country.

In a notification issued on Friday, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, KP’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre said that water flows in River Swat at Khawazakhela point and its tributaries/nullahs had reached high to very high flood levels — 227,899 cusecs — which “may result in a dangerous situation for communities living nearby”.

An aerial view of the submerged park and hotels in Fizagat area. — Photo by Fazal Khaliq
An aerial view of the submerged park and hotels in Fizagat area. — Photo by Fazal Khaliq

It has directed the deputy commissioners of Swat, Lower Dir, Malakand, Mohmand, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshera and Peshawar to immediately identify vulnerable points and communities at risk to devise mitigation and safety measures.

“Maintain enhanced alert level and monitor the developing situation to reduce reaction and response times,” the centre said, calling for the sensitisation of people living on the banks of the rivers about the increase in water flows.

“Make announcements for timely evacuation of the at-risk population from low-lying/flood-prone areas as per evacuation plans,” it added.

The PDMA also instructed authorities to evacuate cattle from areas at risk of flooding, as well as restrict vehicle movement there.

A flooded restaurant at Bypass road in Mingora. — Photo by Fazal Khaliq
A flooded restaurant at Bypass road in Mingora. — Photo by Fazal Khaliq

The 17MW Ranolia hydropower plant in Kohistan district and the 36MW Daral Khor hydropower plant in Swat district have been severely damaged, a news release said.

Earlier today, at least three people drowned in the River Indus near the Bisham area of Shangla. According to the locality’s station house officer, Abbas Khan, two other men in the Shang area were also swept away during the floods.

Separately, a Shangla health department official, Ijaz Ahmad, told Dawn.com that a rural health centre in the Karora area had been washed away by the floods in the Kana river.

Shamsul Hadi, a resident, said that three houses and a mosque were swept away in the floods, while roads and bridges leading to the Ranolia and Dubair areas had been completely destroyed.

In Shangla, the Alpuri-Puran and Karora-Kana roads also suffered several damages at several points, creating a sense of panic among the residents as they were restricted to their houses.

All government and private schools in the area have also been closed until further notice.

In a video message shared from Kohistan’s Kuz Ranolia with Dawn.com Ranolia Nazim Muhammad Shafi said many shops had been destroyed in floods, and 40 houses had been completely washed away.

He also said he’d received word that four families, including children and the elderly, were stranded there. “We appeal to the government to send rescue teams to them,” Shafi said.

In a statement today, the Frontier Works Organisation said that the Karakoram Highway was swept away by floods at Zaidkarh Dassua and was blocked at several points due to landslides.

The deputy commissioner of Swat, Junaid Khan, told Dawn.com that the provincial government has begun rescue operations across the province and was trying to reach out to stranded people.

In Nowshera, all the schools and hospitals have been declared to be under administrative control. Residents have been told to evacuate the area and move to safer locations.

ANP spokesperson Samar Haroon Bilour tweeted a video of people running for their lives on a bridge in Charsadda, as floodwaters raged beneath them.

In a separate tweet, she called for contributions. “We will be there in NamakMandi tomorrow; please contribute. Dry rations, medicines, clothes, beddings and heavy plastic sheets are urgently required.”

Significant flood warning at Kalabagh and Chashma

Separately, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) issued a significant flood warning in the River Indus at Kalabagh and Chashma, which may attain “high to very high flood level ranging between 550,000 Cusecs to 700,000 cusecs from 12pm tomorrow (August 27) to 12pm of August 28.

The Met Department urged authorities to take all precautionary measures to prevent the loss of lives and property.

Military to be deployed in all four provinces for relief efforts

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the Pakistan Army will be deployed to assist civilian authorities in relief efforts.

“All the provincial governments had sent the requisition to deploy Armed forces under article 245, which has been approved by the interior ministry,” he said on Twitter.

“The army personnel are being stationed to lend a hand to the civilian authorities in relief activities in the flood-ravaged areas.”

Calls even with zero balance in flood-hit areas

The Prime Minister’s Head of Strategic Reforms, Salman Sufi announced that on PM Shehbaz’s directives, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will ensure “all mobile companies will provide outgoing call facility even with ZERO balance in all flood affected areas”.

He added that the move would significantly help reaching emergency services and relief efforts.

Imran, KP CM visit DI Khan, Tank

PTI chief Imran Khan and KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan arrived in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank to meet people affected by floods in the two districts in the wake of rain-induced flooding.

Talking to media persons at a relief camp in Dera Ismail Khan, the former prime minister said that damage caused by floods was being assessed by the government. “The rains this year caused damage by tenfolds as compared to floods in 2010.”

Imran emphasised on the construction of small and large dams across the country, saying that was the only solution to flooding. “By constructing dams we can not only avoid flood damage but also make rainwater a valuable asset,” he added.

Later in a tweet, the PTI chief said that the level of destruction in KP was massive. “The sheer magnitude of the flooding that I saw in Tank and DI Khan shows the challenge Pakistan is confronted with as this is the situation in many other areas across the country.”

PM Shehbaz announces Rs15bn grant for Sindh

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Sindh earlier today to overview the rescue and relief operations in the province and announced an Rs15 billion grant for flood affectees.

He said the aid would help the Sindh government carry out relief and rehabilitation activities.

In a media talk, he announced that every rain-affected household in the province would be given Rs24,000 under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). “I have instructed it to start the disbursement (of money) from today only.”

 PM Shehbaz and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talk to media in Sukkur. — DawnNewsTV
PM Shehbaz and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talk to media in Sukkur. — DawnNewsTV

The prime minister said that Rs28 billion will be distributed among the victims, which has already been handed over to BISP. “This matter does not end here, as the rains continue, this amount will increase. The federal govt is prepared for it despite the economic situation, we are doing all this for you.”

He also said that Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir would stay in the province until all the grid stations were made operational again. “He will assist the Sindh government and give me regular updates.”

Furthermore, PM Shehbaz promised that the coalition government would make collective efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the flood victims, adding that it would “leave no stone unturned” to facilitate the people who had faced unprecedented loss in the wake of floods.

He also regretted the loss of 900 lives lost during floods in the last few months.

During his visit today, the premier met the flood affectees, accompanied by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. He was also briefed by the chief secretary of Sindh and officials of the NDMA on the rescue operations.

Communication links in Balochistan snapped

Separately, Balochistan, already battered by flash floods, lost communication with the rest of the country after overnight rains. The air, road and rail networks in Balochistan are already suspended.

A major railway bridge washed away between Kolpur and Mach in Bolan Pass, cutting off Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan, from the rest of the country for an indefinite period, officials said.

All four highways linking Balochistan with other provinces were blocked because of damaged bridges and landslides.

So far, more than 235 people were killed in the province and hundreds of thousands lost their homes, the authorities said.

In a press conference today, Adviser to the Chief Minister for Home Mir Zia Langove said that Wapda grid stations had been inundated with rainwater, disrupting power supply in various parts of the province.

He appealed to the nation and the international community to “come forward and help the affectees in this difficult time”.

Furthermore, Langove assured that the provincial administration would extend all-out help to the people until the last resources were available.

Army chief receives briefing on floods

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa reached Karachi this evening where he was briefed about the flood situation, particularly in Sindh and Balochistan and response measures by the troops to help flood victims, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The army chief will visit army troops busy in rescue and relief efforts in Sindh and Balochistan.

“Army Flood Relief centre has been established at Headquarters Army Air Defence Command Rawalpindi to oversee, coordinate national flood relief efforts across the country in coordination with Military Operations Directorate,” the military’s media affairs wing said.

The statement said flood relief centres were being established in various parts of the country to assist collection, transportation and distribution of relief goods.

“Army troops are shifting people to safer places, providing shelter, meals and busy in medical care to flood affectees,” the ISPR added.

EU announces 1.8m euro in aid

The European Union, meanwhile, announced 1.8 million euros in assistance for Pakistan, the ambassador to Pakistan, Riina Kionka, said on Twitter.

“The EU is providing €1.8 million in humanitarian aid to families affected by flash floods across large parts of Pakistan,” the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations said on its website.

“The aid funding will assist affected people in some of the hardest-hit districts of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.”

This assistance is in addition to the 350,000 euro it announced earlier this week.

NA speaker to donate salaries of MNAs, himself to relief efforts

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced the donation of one month’s salary of all MNAs, including himself, and two days’ salary of all employees of the National Assembly for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the flood affectees.

Ashraf, presently in Canada to attend the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Assembly, apprised the speakers of Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and others of the damage caused by floods.

Record-breaking rain

According to a Dawn report today, Sindh and Balochistan are witnessing the heaviest rainfall this year since 1961, as the two provinces recorded until Thursday 522 and 469 per cent, more than the normal downpour this year, respectively.

“Sindh has received 680.5 millimetres of rain since July when the monsoon season actually began,” said a Met official.

“As per calculated and defined standards, Sindh normally gets 109.5mm rains in the monsoon season. So it’s 522pc higher than normal. Similarly, Balochistan receives 50mm of rain on average every monsoon, but it has so far recorded 284mm — 469pc higher. The country has overall witnessed 207 times higher rainfall so far this monsoon and the season is going to last till September-end.”

In other parts of the country also, the situation didn’t look so different this year. Gilgit-Baltistan, according to the Met Office data, has so far received 50.3mm rain in two months, which is 99pc above normal and Punjab 349mm, exactly 90pc higher than its normal downpour in monsoon. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed 31pc above normal rain this monsoon, where so far 257.4mm rains have been recorded.

Additional information from Reuters


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