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Widespread rain claims 17 lives

December 05, 2006

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KARACHI, Dec 4: At least 17 people died in rain-related accidents as driving rains with thunder and lightning and a snowstorm struck many parts in the four provinces of the country on Monday, paralysing life and wreaking havoc on the electricity and communications networks.

The Met Office said the rain spell would continue over the next 24 hours, causing downpours in upper Punjab and the earthquake-devastated areas in the NWFP and Azad Kashmir.

It said Malamjabba was the coldest place in Pakistan on Monday where the temperature dropped to minus three degrees centigrade.

Four people, including a 12-year-old boy, died from electrocution in Karachi which was lashed by torrential rains, reminiscent of the dripping monsoon that had left the civic infrastructure in tatters.

The city, where roads and underpasses turned into veritable pools of standing water, received 51 millimetres of rainfall in 24 hours.

A seven-year-old girl died when the roof of her Akhtar Colony house, weakened by intermittent rains, collapsed in the early hours of Monday.

Police said two homeless persons died from cold on Monday morning. Their bodies, found on pavements, were taken to the Civil Hospital.

Five people died in the Ornach area of the Khuzdar district of Balochistan when their village was hit by a flash flood on Monday.

A coalmine worker died in a house collapse in Mach.

A flash flood claimed the lives of two young boys in Panjgur on Sunday. A boy died in Manjhipur when the roof of his house collapsed the same day.

Three children died in Peshawar when the roof of a police checkpoint where they had been taking shelter from rain collapsed on Monday.

Their two playmates were injured.

A police official said the checkpoint was never manned because the locals had been against the deployment of police.

A 24-year-old man died when his vehicle was destroyed in an avalanche at the Lowari Pass. The Chitral police are still looking for the victim’s body buried under snow.

The director-general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, said a low-pressure weather system had entered Balochistan from Iran some time back.

“Having caused rains in Balochistan and Sindh, the system has now moved to the north of the country. It will cause rainfall and snowfall in the earthquake-hit areas and in upper Punjab. It will exhaust within 24 hours,” he said.

Hill torrents dislodged a bridge on the RCD Highway connecting Sindh with Balochistan and destroyed the road at five places.

The Met Office said heavy rains lashed Gwadar, Turbat, Panjgur, Kalat, Mastung, Khuzdar, Nushki, Lasbela, Sibi, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Loralai, Pishin, Chaman, Muslim Bagh, Zhob, Qila Abdullah and Qila Saifullah.

Snow fell in Astore, Skardu and Gupis. It kept air travel between Islamabad and Skardu disrupted. However, the APP news agency reported the Karakorum Highway was open for traffic.

South Waziristan, which received a light snowfall on Monday, remained in the grip of a harsh winter.