CHITRAL: A hillside home is seen badly damaged by flash floods following heavy rains in the area, on Saturday.—Online
CHITRAL: A hillside home is seen badly damaged by flash floods following heavy rains in the area, on Saturday.—Online

MANSEHRA / CHITRAL: At least five people were killed in Mansehra district and several were hospitalised after downpours with strong winds and thunderstorms lashed parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday, triggering landslides and destroying infrastructure.

The heavy rain, which started late Friday night, continued intermittently the next entire day, resulting in a “large-scale devastation” in the district. The deluge also triggered flash floods in Chitral, which washed away bridges, roads, and livestock.

Rescue 1122 District Head Hafeezur Rehman told Dawn that “the fresh rain spell triggered a large-scale devastation” and killed five people and injured over a dozen. He said many houses collapsed in the area and roads were blocked.

On Chinar Road, two people died after the house of an Afghan national, Samiullah, collapsed, burying six members under the rubble. The Rescue 1122 officials shifted them to King Abdullah Teaching Hospital where doctors pronounced his wife and son dead. The rest were hospitalised.

Gushing Chitral River sweeps away bridges, livestock; homes collapse in Mansehra

Ajwa Bibi, 12, and her younger brother Mohammad Umar were buried after their house collapsed in the Dehri area of Shinkiari. Locals and rescue officials shifted them to the hospital after retrieving them from the rubble where doctors pronounced Ajwa Bibi dead.

The family members of Mohammad Qadeer were also buried under the rubble when their house collapsed in the Lohar Banda area in the heart of the city. They were shifted to the hospital where a doctor pronounced Mohammad Hussain, 9, dead. Four members of the family were hospitalised. Several houses collapsed in Safada and other localities in the district.

Rescuers also fished out the body of an unidentified man from a swollen stream in the Chitta Batta area.

Meanwhile, due to flash floods, two vehicles were washed away in the Dugai stream in Oghi. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of passengers travelling between Oghi and the neighbouring Torghar district were stuck on the road. Roads were also blocked in Safada village, Siren Valley, Konsh Valley, and Kaghan Valley owing to mudslides.

Flash floods in Chitral

In Chitral, flash floods followed by torrential rains in the early hours of Saturday destroyed houses, communication infrastructures, crops, and fruit orchards.

The heavy rain lashed the lower part of Chitral Valley from Drosh to Kaghuzi, including Rumber, Ochusht, Gahtak Denin, Kari, Shiaqotek, Ayun and Khorkashandeh.

The road link of Lower Chitral district with Upper Chitral district as well as Gilgit-Baltistan was severed at Nerdet hillock near Chitral city after a high flood in the Chitral River washed away the road.

As a result of the flood which destroyed almost a 0.5km portion of the road, a lake was also forming in the area on the pattern of Attabad Lake in Hunza. The flash floods also washed away the reinforced cement concrete bridges in Denin, Kari and Koghuzi while three wooden bridges in Rumbur and Golen valleys also crumbled.

The high flood in the river inundated a hydro-power station near the city while the supply of drinking water was also disrupted after floods washed away pipelines. The gushing torrents also uprooted four chinar (pine) trees along the Royal Fort which were “300-year-old”.

Lower Chitral DC Muhammad Ali Khan told Dawn that food and non-food items, including tents, have been provided to those who had been rendered homeless while the distribution of drinking water had been started in Chitral city by the administration.

Regarding the loss of life, he said that due to the early warnings by the community members in each affected village, the residents moved to safer places before the flooding.

The loss of livestock is being estimated at 2,000, he added.

In Upper Chitral, the high flood in the river due to the melting of glaciers of Broghil, 61 houses were inundated, including a government school and a suspension bridge in the villages of Yarkhoon Valley and Laspur.

Upper Chitral DC Khalid Zaman told Dawn that due to road blockades, the administration was experiencing difficulty in relief activities. He anticipated more devastation in the area as the level of the river was constantly on the rise due to the fast-melting glaciers amid an unprecedented rise in temperature.

In Lahore, heavy rain inundated the provincial capital along with various parts of Punjab. Lahore witnessed urban flooding by receiving up to 205mm of rain in a six-hour-long spell.

The Met Office has warned of urban flooding due to heavy rain in Lahore and other major cities from July 23 to 26. It also feared landslides and flash floods in vulnerable areas of Azad Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2023

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