13 more deaths in KP, urban flood emergency imposed in Quetta as rains continue

Published April 15, 2024
This photo shows a wet street in Kalat, Balochistan on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
This photo shows a wet street in Kalat, Balochistan on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

Another 13 people died in rain-related incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while the Balochistan government imposed an “urban flood emergency” in Quetta, officials said on Monday.

Contin­uous heavy rains accompanied by thunderstorms have lashed several parts of the country in the past few days, resulting in a total of 39 deaths, out of which 12 occurred on Sunday — six in KP, four in Punjab and two in Balochistan.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he had directed the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to coordinate with all the provinces on the rain situation.

 PM Shehbaz chairs a meeting in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
PM Shehbaz chairs a meeting in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

Addressing a high-level meeting on power projects, he conveyed his condolences on the loss of lives. PM Shehbaz urged the NDMA and its provincial counterparts to work together to ensure that basic relief supplies reached the places in need.

Heavy rainfall, floods and landslides continued to wreak havoc in the northern parts of KP for the fourth consecutive day.

According to a KP PDMA report issued on Monday night, the death toll since April 12 rose to 21 from the previous day’s eight with 13 more deaths — six men, two women and five children. Meanwhile, the total number of injured rose to 32.

The report noted that Chitral, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Shangla, Swat, Malakand and Bajaur districts were among those affected by the rainfall and flooding.

According to a flooding report issued by the Peshawar Irrigation Department’s Flood Cell at 1pm, Panjkora River at Dir was witnessing a high-level flow of 64,028 cusecs.

Similarly, Swat River saw a high-level flow at Khwazakhela and Munda Headworks of 52,291 and 96,000 cusecs, respectively.

“Medium” flow was reported in Kabul River at Nowshera while “normal” flow was recorded at the Shah Alam, Naguman and Jindi rivers.

 This photo shows flooded Swat River on Monday. — KP PDMA
This photo shows flooded Swat River on Monday. — KP PDMA

Swat’s Rescue 1122 spokesperson Shafiq Gul said a house collapse at Matta Swat resulted in over 40 cattle perishing. However, no human losses were reported in the incident.

Heavy rain coupled with thunderstorms resulted in main and link roads being blocked, paralysing life across the province. According to the National Highway Authority (NHA), the Karakoram Highway was open for all sorts of traffic.

However, tourists travelling to Swat, Kalam and Kumrat were stranded at multiple locations as the Kalam road was blocked at various points due to landslides.

Rescue 1122 spokesperson Rasool Khan Sharif said the KKH was blocked at Pattan after a landslide, leaving vehicles stuck on both sides. He further said the Bisham-Swat road was also blocked at several points in Shangla and that two goats perished after a house was struck by a landslide in the district’s Chakat area.

Ahmad Ali, a tourist from Abbottabad who was stranded among several others at the Thal area of Kumrat in Upper Dir, told Dawn.com that he had been stranded since Monday morning as the road leading to Kumrat caved in and was blocked by the landslides.

Ali lamented that he had not seen any government authority take measures to reopen the road or help them while they were stranded “without food or water”.

The tourist demanded that the government help and rescue the people stuck as there were chances of more landslides occurring there while families remained stranded on the road.

3 drown, 5 wounded in rain-related incidents in AJK

Meanwhile, at least three people drowned and a fourth person was recovered with critical wounds in two different incidents in Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) as torrential rains continued to play havoc with road infrastructure and properties in some parts of the region, officials said.

Elsewhere, they added four people were injured in rain-related incidents in the jurisdiction of district Muzaffarabad.

Akhtar Ayoub, disaster management officer in Neelum district, told Dawn.com that a woman and her two children were walking along the Rantha Galli stream near the Kutton village of Jagran area when a mudslide pushed them into the raging torrent.

The official said the violent stream threw the young boy towards the bank some 150 metres from where villagers rescued him in critical condition, adding that he was rushed to Muzaffarabad’s Combined Military Hospital after preliminary treatment at a local facility.

The body of the woman was recovered by villagers some 500m away, but the young girl could not be found till late evening, Ayoub said.

He said the Rantha Galli stream merges into the Jagran nullah over one kilometre away from the accident’s venue and after 7km from there, nullah merges into the Neelum River in the town of Kundal Shahi.

Ayoub said he feared that the girl’s body might have been taken by the nullah into the river.

He said that as a result of heavy rains, almost all water channels in most parts of the valley had flooded, posing serious risks to the adjacent properties and inhabitants.

In the other incident, a 60-year-old man drowned in a water channel in Lawat village when he was returning home from a mosque after Maghrib prayers, Ayoub said, adding that the man slipped in the mud and fell into a stream.

Fellow villagers pulled him out of the channel after a short while but he did not survive, Ayoub said.

He added that the unrelenting rains had also triggered landslides along the main Neelum Valley road at several places, blocking traffic beyond Shaikh Bela. Ayoub said personnel of the highways department were braving the harsh weather to keep the road open for traffic.

Ayoub said at least 15000 tourists were still present in the valley and were advised not to leave their respective accommodations until the weather conditions improved.

In Muzaffarabad, Saeed Qureshi, a senior director at the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), told Dawn.com that four people were injured in rain-related incidents in Patikka areas of Muzaffarabad.

In the same area, he said, three houses and a cattle pen were destroyed and as many houses were partially damaged by heavy rains.

Elsewhere, 11 houses were partially damaged in the Bagh district and one house was partially damaged in the Jhelum Valley district, he said.

Qureshi said the Muzaffarabad-Islamabad road via Kohala was open for all traffic but the Muzaffarabad-Mansehra road via Lohar Galli was closed due to a huge landslide at Lohar Galli.

However, small vehicles were being diverted to the alternative route of Shaheed Galli to travel to Mansehra and beyond, he said.

Control room, medical camps in KP

Separately, an “emergency control room for flood” was established under the directives of KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur.

According to a notification issued today, the control room at the CM’s secretariat can be contacted at 091-111712713 and 0343-2222949.

In another notification, KP Health Services Director General Dr Shaukat Ali ordered all district health officers (DHO) and medical superintendents (MS) to remain present at their duty stations without fail.

They were further told to “strategically organise and deploy medical camps in areas severely affected by rainfall or facing compromised accessibility to healthcare facilities”.

The DHOs and MS were also instructed to ensure “uninterrupted availability of essential medicines in all healthcare facilities” across the province.

The officials were ordered to “mandate the compilation of comprehensive reports” so that “any instances of epidemic cases of communicable diseases” could be promptly detected.

Urban flood emergency in Quetta

In Balochistan, rains had continued to lash parts of Makran and various other regions on Sunday, raising the death toll in the province to 10.

According to a notification dated April 14, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has imposed an “urban flood emergency” under Section 3 of the Balochistan Natural Calamity (Prevention and Relief Act).

In the early hours of Monday, Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfaraz Bugti convened an online meeting with the province’s divisional commissioners and PDMA officials.

During the meeting, Principal Secretary to CM Imran Zarqoon and PDMA Director General Jahanzeb Khan briefed the chief minister on the overall rain situation in the province. They also detailed the rescue and relief operations dealt with by the authority’s control room.

The chief minister expressed his satisfaction at the PDMA’s performance, asserting that the government “could not leave the province’s people alone during these tough times”. CM Bugti said that all resources be put to use to deal with any emergencies.

However, he expressed his dismay at public complaints about the lack of water drainage, directing that all required resources and support be provided to all field officers to address the complaints.

The chief minister noted that it was the provincial government’s responsibility to provide relief and help to the public. He further ordered field officers to remove encroachments on nullas.

According to PDMA spokesperson Younus Mengal, the authority carried out overnight rescue operations in various areas across the province, including Hina Orak, Ghai Khan Chowk and Inscum Road. Teams led by PDMA officers Faisal Tariq and Faisal Panizai had remained engaged in draining accumulated rainwater.

Balochistan government spokesperson Shahid Hameed Rind said that holidays of all Quetta staff and officers had been suspended.

According to a separate notification issued by the provincial education department, the government ordered all public and private schools across the province to remain closed today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday).

More rains with wind/thunderstorm predicted

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) forecast more “rains-wind/thunderstorm” during the week, with occasional gaps.

In a press release issued in the afternoon, it said “another strong westerly wave” was likely to enter western parts of the country on the night of April 16 (Tuesday) and was likely to grip most parts of Balochistan on April 17 and would extend to upper parts on April 18.

The PMD said that under the weather system’s influence, rain-wind/thunderstorm (few heavy, with isolated very heavy falls) were expected in Gwadar, Kech, Awaran, Chagi, Kharan, Awaran, Lasbella, Khuzdar, Kalat, Noushki, Mastung, Jhal Magsi, Naseerabad, Sibbi, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Barkhan, Loralai, Harnai, Qilla Saifullah, Mastung, Ziarat, Shirani, Zhob, Musa Khel and Barkhan from Tuesday night to the morning of April 19 (Friday).

In KP, the same was forecast with snowfall over high mountains in Chitral, Dir, Swat, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Haripur, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Malakand, Waziristan, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Bajaur, Mohmand, Karak, Khyber, Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Swabi, Mardan and Kurram with occasional gaps from April 17 night to April 21. Hailstorm was also expected at isolated places during the forecast period, the met office added.

The PMD warned that heavy rainfall may generate flash flooding in local nullahs and streams of Balochistan, especially in Gwadar, Kech, Awaran, Kalat, and Khuzdar on April 17-18.

It predicted the same in Dir, Swat, Chitral, Kohistan, Mansehra and the tributaries of Kabul River, as well as in Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir from April 18-20.

The met office further alerted about the “possibility of landslides in upper KP, Murree, Galiyat, Kashmir and GB, which it said may affect the vulnerable locations from April 18-21.

Damage in Balochistan due to rains

Officials had on Sunday reported severe damages in coastal towns such as Pasni, Kech, and Panjgur districts as well as the port city of Gwadar.

These damages include heavy losses to houses and infrastructure, and disruptions to transportation networks, including the coastal highway and other link roads, cutting off access to many areas from Quetta and other districts.

The power supply had been severely affected, with electric pylons uprooted in Pasni and Panjgur areas, leading to outages lasting hours in Quetta and surrounding areas. Gas supply disruptions and low pressure had also been reported across various areas of the provincial capital and other cities.

Normal life and traffic had been significantly impacted across Makran and other regions of northern, central and southern Balochistan, with incessant rains affecting around 25 districts of the province.

Reports indicated that Pasni, a coastal town in the Gwadar district, had been particularly hard hit, with extensive areas submerged under rainwater.

“Pasni looks like a big lake at the moment as flash floods entered the human settlements and main commercial areas,” Noor Ahmed Kalmati, chairman of Pasni Municipal Committee, had told Dawn by phone.

“Dozens of mud houses and boundary walls collapsed in heavy rains that lashed the small town for four hours,” Kalmati said, adding that the municipal committee was trying to rescue residents trapped by floodwaters.

In Kech district, scores of houses had been damaged, and link roads washed away, cutting links to Turbat and other areas of Makran.

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