LAHORE: A view of the damage at Mozang Hospital after Thursday’s heavy rains. —PPI
LAHORE: A view of the damage at Mozang Hospital after Thursday’s heavy rains. —PPI

• Traffic suspended between Quetta and Punjab, KP
• High flood expected in Punjab rivers, residents to be relocated

LAHORE/QUETTA: As rain continued to lash parts of Punjab on Thursday, at least 18 more deaths were reported from across the province, while in Balochistan heavy showers triggered flash floods and brought traffic at key highways to a standstill.

In Punjab, the death toll over the past two days due to a torrential monsoon spell increased to 27. Unlike Wednesday, rain severity was almost negligible in Lahore, with most of the 16 monitoring points of the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) recording single-digit rainfall. However, four more deaths were reported in the provincial capital, taking the total tally to 12 in the last two days.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Autho­rity (PDMA) data, six people lost their lives in Gujran­wala. Chakwal and Sheikhu­pura reported three deaths each and one person died in Jhang and another one in Faisal­abad. In addition, 49 people got injured, 32 of them severely and 17 with mild injuries. On Thursday, it rained in 13 districts of the province and Met officials said rain would spread across the province over the next 48 hours and the gravity of the spell would also intensify.

A forecast by the Metrological Department said that a deep trough of westerly wave along with strong incursion of monsoon currents would result in “widespread heavy to very heavy rainfall with extremely heavy falls” at scattered places over the upper catchments of Rivers Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab and up to some extent over River Jhelum.

Due to these conditions, “very high to exceptionally high flooding is expected in Chenab”. The flood situation in Ravi and Sutlej will depend upon release of water from India. High to very high flooding is also expected in the nullahs of Ravi and Chenab, it added.

The PDMA went into an emergency huddle to assess the possible danger and directed the district administration to relocate residents living along rivers to safer areas. The administrative authorities of districts situated along the rivers (Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej, and Jhelum) were instructed to identify suitable locations for setting up relief camps in case of any emergency.

Shahid Abbas of the Metrological Department said Friday (today) would remain wet but it may not be as threatening as the previous 48 hours. However, Saturday and Sunday would receive Wednesday-like spells, creating harsh and quick urban flooding and Lahore may have a rerun of what happened on Wednesday.

The rains, which are largely restricted to upper and central parts of the province, would spread to the south and beyond – covering the entire province.

Provincial authorities fear flash floods in Dera Ghazi Khan and adjoining areas due to hill torrents entering the province from Balochistan hills which put at risk all towns and cities lying in the foothills of these mountains.

Flash floods in Balochistan

Meanwhile, the Balochistan disaster management authority issued a high alert to cope with the monsoon rains which started lashing different areas of the province, causing flash floods and suspension of traffic at some highways linking the province with Sindh and Punjab.

“We have issued directives to all deputy commissioners about the possible damages due to flash floods in seasonal streams and rivers and have sent necessary relief goods to immediately provide relief,” PDMA Director General Jahanzeb Khan said here on Thursday.

Heavy downpour with gusty winds and thunderstorms was reported in Sibi, Kalat, Zhob, Barkhan, Loralai, Musakhail, Awaran, Khuzdar, Nasirabad, and Lasbela districts on Wednesday. The traffic between Quetta and Sibi was suspended in Bolan, as a flash flood hit the Quetta-Sibi highway near Pingra Bridge. “The flood water was flowing over the bridge that suspended all kinds of traffic and a large number of buses, passenger coaches, trucks and other vehicles had been stuck at both sides of the bridge.

Officials said that heavy rains were reported in Harnai, Ziarat and Sanjavi – the catchment areas of Bolan and Nari Gaj rivers. However, officials concerned reached the site making efforts to restore traffic between Quetta and Sibi. The authorities in Bolan and Sibi asked people to avoid journeys due to the rains and flash floods.

Highways linking Punjab and D I Khan and Islamabad were also affected due to monsoon rain lashing Zhob and Sherani districts. The power supply was affected in Sibi, Nasirabad and other areas of eastern Balochistan.

In Nasirabad, Deputy Commissioner Ayesha Zehri visited the protection bands (levees) around Dear Murad Jamali and Pat Feeder Canal as a flash flood was expected in the area after heavy rains in Lehri and Dera Bugti.

Parts of Khuzdar also received rainfall with strong winds that caused a flash flood in the Mola River which will hit Jhal Magsi and Nasirabad districts. These districts were the worst affected during last year’s flooding.

According to an official, a letter for the imposition of Section 144 in the affected areas has been issued to the deputy commissioners. It may be recalled that torrential rain followed by flash floods had wreaked havoc in parts of the province, causing huge human and capital losses in 2023.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2023

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