Lightning strikes kill 8 during rains in Punjab

Published June 26, 2023
Motorists travelling between Quetta and Ziarat face difficulties after flash floods hit the main highway, on Sunday.—Dawn
Motorists travelling between Quetta and Ziarat face difficulties after flash floods hit the main highway, on Sunday.—Dawn

LAHORE / QUETTA: Eight people lost their lives after they were struck by lightning in Punjab as many areas in the province received heavy rain with strong wind, on Sunday.

The extreme weather also caused infrastructure and livestock losses in parts of Punjab and Balochistan.

Deaths were reported in Narowal, Sialkot and Sheikhupura districts.

According to a rescue official, five people were killed in Narowal district. “The lightning strikes occurred in four areas, including the villages of Ratia Khurd and Mengra, of Narowal district,” said Rescue 1122 spokesperson Hurmat Ali.

In Changovali village, two people working in a field fell victim to lightning strikes. They were identified as Mohammad Siddique, 60, and Mohammad Naseer, 30. One Abdul Rehman was moved to hospital in serious condition.

Downpours, hailstorm batter parts of Balochistan

In a similar incident, 20-year-old Mohammad Bilal was killed in Kanogo village as were Mohammad Asad and Mohammad Saqlain in nearby areas.

Narowal Deputy Comm­issioner Mohammad Ashraf said there were reports of loss of livestock as well.

“The district administration is compiling a damage report,” DC Ashraf said, adding that the thunderstorm also damaged power pylons, plunging many areas into darkness.

Two incidents of lightning were reported from Sheik­hupura, killing Mohammad Atif, 37, and leaving Moha­mmad Shafiq severely injured.

Both the injured and dead were shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital.

Lightning also struck a transformer at the Sharaqpur Road grid station resulting in a fire which suspended power supply to the area.

Mohammad Kashif, 16, and Waqar Ali,18, lost their lives due to lightning strikes in tehsil Pasrur’s Thatta and Chondah villages, respectively.

Rain, hailstorms in Balochistan

Many areas of northern and central Balochistan, including the provincial capital Quetta, also received heavy rain and hail storms on Sunday.

The extreme weather disrupted life as it caused damage to homes and other infrastructure. The rain led to flash floods in Ziarat with water entering residential areas in the valley.

According to officials, Ziarat and its adjoining areas have been receiving heavy pre-monsoon rains for the last week. However, on Sunday heavy rains caused flash floods as seasonal streams carried heavy floodwater from nearby mountains.

The traffic between Ziarat, Quetta and other areas was suspended as roads were inundated by floodwater. Several tourists have been stuck in the valley with long queues of buses and other vehicles on both sides of the Quetta-Ziarat road.

Officials said departments concerned were making efforts to open the road and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority staff was present on the ground to help people whose homes have been flooded.

Heavy rainfall was also reported in Loralai, Duki, Harnai, Sibi and Bolan areas. Quetta also received heavy rain with thunderstorms which dropped the mercury.

More rains predicted

Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman has urged caution as the Met department has predicted more rainfall in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.

According to the advisory, rain and thunderstorm with strong winds are forecast for Lahore, Attock, Jhelum, Chakwal, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha, Mianwali, Sheikhupura and Faisalabad districts of Punjab.

Dust and thunderstorms were also expected in Bhakkar, Sahiwal, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar districts.

In a tweet, Ms Rehman said pre-monsoon rains from June 25 to 30 will subside the prevailing heat wave in many areas.

“Heavy rains may cause urban flooding and trigger landslides in vulnerable mountainous areas such as Murree, Galliyat, Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

Flash floods were also expected in D. G. Khan and adjoining areas of northeast Balochistan, the minister warned. “All relevant local [departments] have been instructed to stay alert and tourists are advised to exercise caution. Citizens are requested to stay away from weak infrastructure, power poles, and watercourses during strong winds and rains to avoid any untoward incidents,” she added.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2023

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