Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday imposed a rain emergency in the province and declared tomorrow to be a half-day for all government and private offices in Karachi.

On Wednesday, the Sindh Pakistan Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) had issued an urban flooding warning and directed the deputy commissioners and all officials concerned to take required measures.

According to the advisory issued by the Met Department, rain/thunderstorms with few heavy falls are expected in northern parts of the province from Feb 29 till March 2. Similar weather conditions are likely to prevail in the rest of the province from March 1.

“Heavy falls may generate urban flooding in low-lying areas. Fishermen of Balochistan are advised not to venture into deep sea till March 1 while those of Sindh are advised to remain careful during the forecast period,” it said.

In light of the forecast, the Sindh government issued a notification declaring tomorrow to be a half working day.

“The government of Sindh hereby declares half working day till 14:00 hours/2pm on March 1, 2024 (Friday) due to a rain emergency for all offices autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations and local councils in Karachi division, except those indulged in essential services and involved in rain emergency duties,” it said.

The notification, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, added that directives would be applicable to private sector organisations as well.

In another notification, the provincial government said evening shift schools of all public and private sector educational institutions would remain closed tomorrow. It added that the decision was taken in light of the rain emergency.

Separately, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari directed the Sindh government to play a “full and effective role” in preparation for possible rains in the province.

High alert

Earlier in the day, the Sindh chief minister chaired a meeting regarding the situation at the CM House. During the meeting, CM Murad decided to declare a rain emergency in the province and put local institutions, the administration and hospitals on high alert, a statement issued by his spokesperson said.

The statement also said that Murad decided that tomorrow would be a “half-day” at all public and private offices in Karachi and urged the people to not leave their houses unnecessarily.

He said that rainfall was expected in Karachi from 2pm tomorrow. “After 2pm tomorrow, three to four spells of rainfall have been predicted in different areas of Karachi,” he said.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab also confirmed the same. In a post on X, he said: “Though preparations have been made, as a matter of abundant precaution, it has been decided in meeting presided by CM that tomorrow will be a half-day for offices in Karachi division from 2pm.

“Citizens are requested to also avoid unnecessary movement to avoid any inconvenience,” he said.

Separately, in a video statement, Wahab said all the relevant authorities had made full preparations in light of the rain emergency. He stated that chokepoints of most drains across Karachi had been cleared.

The mayor further said that unexpected showers in March showed the negative impacts of global warming and climate change.

Meanwhile, the meeting chaired by the Sindh CM was informed by PDMA Director General Salman Shah that rainfall had been predicted in the northern areas of the province from tonight till March 2 (Saturday).

He said that rainfall was expected in the central areas of the province from March 1 (tomorrow), adding that rains were expected in the province from today.

“Rains are expected to begin in Karachi on Friday afternoon, with 13mm to 16mm expected in a 12-hour timespan,” the official informed the meeting.

Over the possibility of rainwater entering the province from the mountainous areas in Balochistan’s Jhal Magsi and Khuzdar, CM Murad directed the Larkana commissioner to make the necessary arrangements in this regard.

Meanwhile, the provincial irrigation department assured Murad that Manchhar Lake would be able to withstand the inflow of rainwater.

The Karachi mayor acknowledged that there were drainage issues after last months’ rainfall. However, he assured that these were being resolved, adding that the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) had 53 vehicles with suction machines available.

PDMA’s Shah also vowed to provide the necessary machinery to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for draining rainwater, noting that Karachi’s main artery Sharea Faisal comes under water pressure during the rains.

Emergency measures

Separately, an emergency meeting was also held at the headquarters of the Sindh Rescue 1122 service in Karachi.

The meeting, headed by Sindh Emergency Rescue Service (SERS) Director General Dr Abid Jalaluddin Shaikh, discussed measures that needed to be taken in case of an emergency.

According to a statement, DG Shaikh revoked the leaves of all the rescue officials and issued strict orders to ensure the staff’s complete attendance. He also instructed emergency officers and station in-charges of each district to maintain contact with district administration at all times.

“Water rescue vehicles and rescue workers should be ready to deal with rain emergencies or a flood-like situation,” the DG said, adding that the upcoming three days were critical.

“All workers should carry out their duties at their respective rescue stations with preparedness and commitment,” DG Shaikh stated, adding that serving and protecting the public was the top priority.

In another statement, DG Shaikh noted that Rescue 1122 centres had been established at six divisional headquarters within Karachi, Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad, Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas.

The statement said Rescue 1122 was equipped with the necessary tools, equipment, and accessories to manage any water emergency. “A dedicated officer has been nominated to provide smooth coordination regarding central command and control,” the statement added.

It also provided a list of officers responsible for coordination during rain emergencies.

PMD issues warning

Meanwhile, in its weather forecast released today, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said that the westerly wave prevailing over Balochistan was likely to accentuate.

“Rain and thunderstorms with few heavy falls likely in Kambar Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, Larkana, Shikarpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur and Dadu from today to the morning of March 2,” it said.

“Rain/thunderstorm with few heavy falls likely in Jamshoro, Thatta, Tharparkar, Badin, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad, Tando Allah Yar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Naushahro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar districts and Karachi division tomorrow.

“Rain/thunderstorm with few heavy falls and snowfall over the hills likely in all districts of Balochistan till March 2, while few very heavy falls in Gwadar, Kech, Awaran, Bela, Hub districts and adjacent Arabian sea till tomorrow,” the PMD forecast added.

It further warned that heavy falls may general urban flooding in low-lying areas and advised fishermen in Balochistan against venturing into the deep sea till tomorrow. It also urged the fishermen in Sindh to remain careful during the forecast period.

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