Relief and rescue efforts under way in calamity-hit Gwadar after flooding

Published March 1, 2024
The photo shows flooded roads in Balochistan’s Gwadar city. — DawnNewsTV
The photo shows flooded roads in Balochistan’s Gwadar city. — DawnNewsTV
The photo shows flooded roads in Balochistan’s Gwadar city. — DawnNewsTV
The photo shows flooded roads in Balochistan’s Gwadar city. — DawnNewsTV

Relief and rescue efforts were under way in Gwadar on Friday after it received more than 180 millimetres of rain in the past two days, authorities said.

On Thursday, the Balochistan government had imposed an emergency in Gwadar and declared it calamity-hit after heavy rains wreaked havoc in the city.

Normal life and traffic had remained suspended in Gwadar, Makran and northern and central parts of Balochistan as 30-hour-long showers triggered flash floods and submerged most of the areas.

Officials had said that Gwadar had received around 180 millimetres of rainfall over the past two days.

According to a report issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) today, 103 people were rescued in Gwadar, two in Kech, and five in Washuk.

It said that around 140 houses were damaged in Gwadar, 25 in Kech, five in Kharan, and two in Quetta. Relief supplies were being dispatched to these districts, the report said. The PDMA said the highest amount of rainfall was recorded in Pasni and Gwadar, where the respective deputy commissioners were leading rescue operations.

Separately, at least three people lost their lives today while one sustained injuries after a wall collapsed inside a house in the Kharan district.

In a video statement, PDMA Director General Jahanzeb Khan said: “Really, the situation in Gwadar is a bit bad.”

Khan stated that the reason for the flood situation was that the port city had received “187mm of rainfall during the last two days”.

He said that the process of removing the accumulated rainwater was under way. The PDMA, Pakistan Army, the Navy and the district administration were taking part in the relief and rescue operations along with other institutions, Khan added.

The PDMA DG further said that people whose homes had been flooded were evacuated to safe locations. He warned that the rains would continue in the province for the next two days.

Khan went on to say that letters have been sent again to the districts concerned, instructing them to deal with any untoward situation.

He added he was in constant contact with deputy commissioners across Balochistan and that the PDMA control room in Quetta was fully functional round the clock.

According to the PMD’s weather forecast, “Widespread heavy rain-windstorm/thunderstorm (heavy snowfall over hills) is expected in Nokkundi, Dalbandin, Chagi, Lasbella, Awaran, Turbat, Kech, Gwadar, Jiwani, Pasni, Ormara, Panjgur, Kharan, Washuk, Noushki, Kalat, Khuzdar, Mastung, Sibbi, Naseerabad, Kohlu, Jhal Magsi, Loralai, Zhob, Sherani, Barkhan, Musakhel, Ziarat, Quetta, Chaman, Pishin, Qila Abdullah and Qila Saifullah.”

“Isolated hailstorm is also likely during the period,” it added. For tomorrow, it forecast “mainly dry weather” in most districts of the province. “However, partly cloudy weather with rain/snowfall over hills is expected at isolated places in Quetta, Ziarat, Zhob and Barkhan,” it added.

Sindh braces for ‘few heavy falls’

As Sindh braced for rough weather, the PMD said “rain/thunderstorm with few heavy falls” were likely in Karachi and various parts of the province today.

On Thursday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had imposed a rain emergency in the province and declared Friday to be a half-day for all government and private offices in Karachi.

The decision was taken in the light of the Sindh Pakistan Disaster Management Authority’s (PDMA) warning the previous day of a potential urban flooding situation.

According to the latest advisory issued by the Met Department today, “rain/thunderstorms with few heavy falls” are expected in various parts of the province today and tomorrow.

It said a “westerly wave is prevailing over Balochistan and adjoining Sindh”. “Heavy falls may generate urban flooding in low-lying areas. Fishermen are advised to remain careful during the forecast period,” it warned.

“The heavy rains in Balochistan Province are forecasted today and tomorrow, which may lead to flooding in Jacobabad, Kamber Shahdadkot, Dadu, Jamshoro and Malir districts,” the advisory added.

According to the PMD, “rain/thunderstorm with few heavy falls [are] likely in Kambar Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, Larkana, Shikarpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Sukkur and Dadu till tomorrow morning”.

It made the same prediction for Jamshoro, Thatta, Sujawal, Tharparker, Badin, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Naushahro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar districts and Karachi division but only for today, adding that “mainly dry weather is expected in most districts of the province” tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in its rainfall report, the PMD stated that the highest amount of rainfall in Karachi was reported at the PAF Faisal Base (14mm) followed by Keamari, Surjani Town, Sadi Town, and Nazimabad.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah made surprise visits to check dewater machinery in the low-lying areas and to check the attendance of officers at the New Secretariat.

CM Shah visited low-lying areas in District South, including underpasses, Khaliquz Zaman Road, Aiwan-e-Saddar Road, the road between Sindh Secretariat and High Court, II Chundrigar Road, and other areas.

During his visit, he noticed that in some areas, the machinery of the water board and other suction machines was not installed. As a result, he directed Karachi Commissioner Saleem Rajput to ensure that the machinery was deployed and to report back to him.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab said that 53 suction vehicles have been moved to “various locations for clearing rainwater as and when required”.

In a post on X, Wahab said, “Apart from traffic police, wardens have also been placed on major arteries to help ease the flow of traffic.”

Commissioner Rajput said the administration and the relevant departments were “fully prepared” to prevent damages from the rain, as per CM Shah’s instructions.

In a statement, he urged the public to avoid heading out of their homes unnecessarily and advised them to stay away from electricity wires and poles.

The commissioner further advised citizens to have plenty of fuel in their vehicles and not to park them near power poles. He also urged motorcycle drivers to wear helmets.

Central District Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Zeeshan Shafiq Siddiqui ordered the police to remain alert in case of any emergency during the rains.

In a statement, SSP Siddiqui said, “Divisional superintendents of police and station house officers should remain in their areas.” He also ordered all officers to oblige the constables to remain stationed at their designated points and help the citizens in need.

The SSP issued directives for the evacuation of families stuck in the rain to safe locations and to also help the traffic police in ensuring a smooth traffic flow. The officer further ordered that additional policemen be deployed at important locations.

CAA urges authorities in Karachi to remain ‘extra vigilant’

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has advised all concerned authorities to remain “extra vigilant and take necessary actions” to avoid any untoward situation in Karachi.

In a letter directed to the internal departments of the authority, a copy of which is with Dawn.com, the CAA issued precautionary measures to be taken at the Karachi airport.

It said that during the rain, various kinds of insects and worms increase within the airfield which causes a rise in bird activities. “Airside inspector must ensure [an] adequate number of bird shooters be deployed at [the] aerodrome and arrange fumigation spray where required,” it said.

“Camp Commandant should ensure that outside the fence, [the] area must be free from blockage during rain,” it said. The letter added that the airfield lighting party should ensure that electrical cable joints were proper, pits were covered and lights were serviceable to avoid any incident or accident.

“MU meter party shall be ready to determine runway friction or breaking action during rain for ensuring safe aircraft operations,” it said.

CAA further directed the cleaning of all water drains, especially behind international and domestic satellites for smooth flow of rainwater. It added that the electronics department should ensure that antenna, dish and electronics cable joints were proper and serviceable.

“RFFS [Rescue and Fire Fighting Services] should ensure the serviceability of ‘Follow Me Van’ and control speed to avoid any untoward situation,” it said.

Operational staff and facilities availability should be ensured, the letter concluded.

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