Relief and rescue operations under way after rain, floods wreak havoc in KP, Balochistan, GB

Published March 5, 2024
PM Shehbaz Sharif meets flood-hit families in Gwadar alongside Balochistan CM Sarfraz Bugti on February 5, 2024. — DawnNewsTv
PM Shehbaz Sharif meets flood-hit families in Gwadar alongside Balochistan CM Sarfraz Bugti on February 5, 2024. — DawnNewsTv
PM Shehbaz Sharif talks to the media alongside Balochistan CM Sarfraz Bugti and PML-N leaders Jam Kamal Khan and Ataullah Tarar during his visit to Gwadar on Feb 5, 2024. — DawnNewsTV
PM Shehbaz Sharif talks to the media alongside Balochistan CM Sarfraz Bugti and PML-N leaders Jam Kamal Khan and Ataullah Tarar during his visit to Gwadar on Feb 5, 2024. — DawnNewsTV

Rescue and relief operations were under way across Pakistan on Tuesday after heavy rain and snowfall wreaked havoc in parts of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Inclement weather has taken a toll on the country in the last few weeks. At least 40 people were killed in rain-related incidents in KP while hundreds lost their homes to floods in Balochistan. In GB, main arteries were blocked due to landslides.

The situation prompted provincial authorities to stay on high alert and deploy help to all the affected areas.

Today, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Gwadar — which was declared calamity-hit after torrential rains triggered massive floods in the city — and announced a compensation package for those affected by the deluge.

Flanked by Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti and other officials, the newly elected premier interacted with locals and was given a briefing on the relief activities.

Speaking to the media later, PM Shehbaz said Rs0.75 million will be given to all those people whose houses were completely destroyed in the rain while Rs0.3m will be distributed for repairs of partially damaged homes.

“This amount will be distributed within the next four days with the help of the national and provincial disaster management authorities,” he said, adding that 7,000 ration bags will also be distributed in the flood-affected areas from tomorrow onwards.

The PM also announced Rs2m compensation for the citizens who lost their loved ones in the rain and Rs0.5m for those injured. “We cannot bring back these people but we can take care of their families,” he said.

“I took oath as the PM yesterday and came here today not to show off but to sympathise with you from the bottom of my heart and assure you that we are standing with you,” the premier added.

Meanwhile, Gwadar Development Authority Director General Dawood Khilji told Dawn.com that 80 per cent of rainwater in the city had been drained.

KP situation

On the other hand, the death toll from rain-related deaths in KP surged to 40. According to the PDMA, 62 people suffered injuries, 80 houses were completely damaged and 555 reported partial damages.

It said nine cattle also perished in the long spell and over 20 government buildings were damaged due to landslides.

PDMA spokesperson Taimoor Khan told Dawn.com that relief items including tents, food, and blankets had been provided to the affected families in 14 districts across KP.

He said a majority of rain-related incidents were reported in Bajaur, Mohmand, and Dir districts.

Separately, Diamer Deputy Commissioner Capt (retd) Muhammad Arif said the Karakoram Highway had been opened for traffic after a four-day closure and was now closed at Kohistan.

Fuel shortage in GB

Meanwhile, GB government spokesperson Faizullah Faraq told Dawn.com that the transportation process in the region had been severely affected due to a shortage of petroleum products.

“The continuous closure of the Karakoram Highway for five days resulted in a severe shortage of petroleum products in various districts including Gilgit,” he said.

Locals told Dawn.com that the KKH closure had resulted in a 20 to 25pc increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits in GB. Naeemullah, the owner of a fruit shop, said the surge in prices was mainly due to the closure of the main thoroughfare connecting the region with the rest of the country.

More rains forecast

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, “continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country” and a westerly wave was likely to enter Balochistan today.

In its daily weather forecast, the Met Office said dry weather persisted in most parts of the country while very cold temperature was recorded in the upper areas.

It added that lowest temperatures were recorded in Kalam, Astore, Skardu, Kalat, Dir, Malam Jabba, Chitral, Murree and Mirkhani today.

The PMD said the new spell in Balochistan was likely to affect 16 districts including Khuzdar, Nokundi, Turbat, Chagai, Panjgur, Washuk, Dalbandin, Kharan, and Gwadar.

Meanwhile, light snowfall on mountain peaks was predicted in Chaman, Pasni, Quetta, Kalat, Ziarat, Zhob, and Kila Saifullah.

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