4 dead in rain-related incidents in Punjab; Indus in medium flood at Chashma with water level rising further

Published July 22, 2023
Commuters on motorcycles struggle on a road flooded by rainwater in Lahore on Saturday. — APP
Commuters on motorcycles struggle on a road flooded by rainwater in Lahore on Saturday. — APP
This photo from today (July 22) shows vehicles moving on a flooded road in Lahore. — APP
This photo from today (July 22) shows vehicles moving on a flooded road in Lahore. — APP

At least four people died in rain-related incidents and eight sustained injuries in Punjab on Saturday as heavy showers continued to lash the provincial capital, Lahore, while there were reports of flooding in various villages due to overflowing streams.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in Punjab said the four deaths were reported from Lahore, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin and Faisalabad, of three women and a child.

Meanwhile, the statement issued by the authority at night added, the roofs of five houses were damaged due to torrential rain in the province.

Pakistan’s central region, including Lahore, has been facing a flood situation for several days as the northern states of India, where the catchment areas of the Sutlej and Ravi rivers are located, witnessed torrential downpours. Consequently, India has been releasing more water towards the downstream areas in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a relentless monsoon spell has resulted in multiple rain-related deaths and mishaps in various areas of Pakistan.

Given the situation, the PDMA urged the citizens to avoid going near streams and nullah, as well as electric poles and wires, and not to reside in vulnerable buildings.

Its statement said rescue teams and administrations in relevant areas had been staying alert 24/7. “Immediately inform the relevant district administration in case of any emergency,” the statement added.

Ban on bathing, boating in Ravi and canals in Lahore

Earlier today, Lahore authorities restricted citizens from swimming in the Ravi River and canals, as well as “playing” on their banks, for a week, citing rising water levels.

Lahore Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rafia Haider said in a notification that the public, especially youth, while visiting River Ravi and canals bathe in these water bodies, do boating and play on their banks, putting their lives in danger.

“Heavy rain spell[s] this season may cause unfortunate incidents of drowning and loss of precious human lives,” the notification, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, read.

The DC said, “In my opinion, there are sufficient grounds to proceed under Section 144 of the Cod of Criminal Procedure, 1989, as an immediate prevention and speedy remedy in the matter and directions, hereinafter are necessary to prevent loss of human lives and disturbance of public peace and tranquillity in Lahore district”.

Therefore, she added, a prohibition was being placed on “swimming/ bathing/ boating in River Ravi and canals besides playing on the banks of these water bodies in Lahore district” from July 22 (today) to July 28 (Friday).

Separately, the DC said in a statement that there was a complete restriction on going close to Ravi River for any “leisure or business” purposes, adding that families residing near the water body and their animals should be moved to safer locations.

“The water level is consistently rising and I appeal to the citizens to cooperate,” she said and assured that the district administration was prepared to deal with any emergency situation.

According to an afternoon update by the Water And Sanitation Agency (Wasa), the highest amount of rainfall in Lahore since morning was recorded in Gulshan-i-Ravi at 201 millimetres, followed by 195mm at Air Port and 193mm at Tajpura SDO Office.

Later, Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said in a tweet that Lahore had received “a whopping 203mm of rainfall in just 5 hours”.

According to state broadcaster Radio Pakistan, Naqvi visited various areas in Lahore today to review the drainage situation and directed relevant authorities to utilise all available resources for the drainage of rainwater.

He also instructed that the number of dewatering pumps being used for this purpose should be increased, the report said, adding that the caretaker CM directed Wasa and other relevant departments to complete the drainage work at the earliest.

The CM directed the relevant officers to stay in the field and monitor the situation, the report said.

It further stated that Naqvi instructed the chief traffic officer to take all necessary steps to ensure the traffic flow was not disrupted.

He said that vehicles stuck in rainwater should be removed immediately, the report said.

The PDMA said the flow of water in Ravi, Sutlej and Jhelum was normal around noon. Meanwhile, Chenab was in low flood at Marla, it added.

At night, the authority issued an alert, saying that the Indus River was in medium flood at Chashma Barrage at 6pm and its water level was rising at the said location.

In view of the situation, the authority asked the field formations and district disaster management authorities to take relevant measures to ensure citizens’ safety. These included the removal of settlements located along the Indus River and ensure that breaching sites were operational.

The PDMA also asked the Rescue 1122 (Disaster Management Force) to stay on high alert and have sufficient emergency response personnel and equipment during the forecast period.

Various areas of Sindh also received rain today, with the highest amount of rainfall recorded in Badin at 35mm by 8pm, followed by 17mm in Nagarparkar and 16mm in Chachro, according to Met Office updates. Meanwhile, just 4mm of rain was recorded in Karachi.

Power outages

Rains in Lahore also resulted in power outages, and according to a statement issued by the Lahore Electric Supply Corporation (Lesco), electricity supply from 70 of its feeders had been suspended.

“Lesco staff have been put on high alert, but difficulties are being faced in the restoration [of electricity supply] due to heavy rain,” the statement read. “The work will be resumed as soon as the rain stops.”

The electricity provider also urged citizens to keep a distance from electric installations during rains and avoid putting up stalls below high-voltage wires and transformers.

“Keep a distance of at least 10 feet from high-tension wires,” the statement said.

4 die in Mansehra as Chitral River sees ‘very high’ flood

Meanwhile, four people — three children and a woman — died while another child was injured today in three separate incidents of roof and wall collapses in the Mansehra district.

According to a daily situation report issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of KP, an Afghan woman and her child died after the “iron roof of a house collapsed” at Mansehra’s Chinar Road.

In another incident, a six-year-old died after the wall of an adjacent house collapsed while a five-year-old died in a third similar incident.

According to the PDMA report, there is a “very high” flood level in the Chitral River, which has partially damaged nine houses and five public infrastructures as well as inundated six houses in the Chitral district.

It said that the flood has caused the river to overflow, enter nearby houses and damage the standing crops along the river course.

The PDMA also stated that four roads were blocked in the Lower Chitral district due to the river discharge increasing because of “torrential rain resulting [in] flash flooding in streams”.

It further said that four roads were blocked in the Upper Chitral district as well for the same reason while routes for one-way traffic had been opened at two locations in the Upper Dir district after the roads there were closed for all kinds of traffic earlier today.

The PDMA added that “road clearance activities” were in progress in Upper Chitral while heavy machinery was being mobilised to restore traffic in Lower Chitral as well.

According to a daily weather report by the PDMA, the Balakot district recorded 30 millimetres of rainfall — the highest in KP — in the past 24 hours while Cherat received 18mm and Chitral recorded 13mm of rainfall.

Meanwhile, in an advisory issued today, the Lower Chitral police intimated tourists heading to Chitral that the roads at the points of Kari and Koghuzi are “completely closed” due to the floods.

They asked the tourists to take precautionary measures and to “refrain from travelling to Upper Chitral to avoid any possible problem”.

More rain expected

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, several areas of the country, including Karachi and Islamabad, are likely to continue to receive rain from today until July 26.

The Met Office forecast said monsoon currents were continuously penetrating the country from the Bay of Bengal while a westerly trough was affecting upper parts of the country and that it may persist over the next few days.

Under these conditions, rain/wind-thundershower, with few heavy to very heavy falls, were expected in parts of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, Murree, Galiyat, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, Mandi Bahauddin, Sialkot, Narowal, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Kasur, Mianwali, Sargodha, Khusab, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Sahiwal, Bahawalnagar, Okara, Chitral, Dir, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Mansehra, Kohistan, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Kurram, Lakki Marwat, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Karak and Waziristan from July 22-26 with occasional gaps, the forecast said.

It added that rain/wind-thundershowers, with isolated heavy falls, were also expected in Zhob, Sherani, Barkhan, Musakhel, Kohlu, Naseerabad, Jhal Magsi, Loralai, Ziarat, Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Awaran, Kech, Panjgur, Dera Ghazi khan, Rajanpur, Multan, Khanewal, Bhakkar, Layyah, Kot Addu, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, Larkana, Jacobabad, Dadu, Shaheed Benazirabad, Hyderabad, Sanghar, Badin, Thatta and Karachi from July 22 to July 24 with occasional gaps.

The Met Office has also forecast dust storms in parts of Sindh, including Karachi, from today till July 26.

It has warned that wind and dust storms may cause damage to loose structures while heavy showers could result in water logging or localised urban flooding in low-lying areas of Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Qambar Shahdadkot, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Sanghar districts and Karachi on July 23 and July 24.

The PMD has also warned of landslides in the vulnerable areas of Murree, Galiyat, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and hilly areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Farmers are advised to manage their activities keeping in view the forecast,” the Met Office advisory said, adding that tourists and travellers may remain “extra cautious” to avoid any untoward situation during the wet spell.


Additional input from Imtiaz Ali

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