KARACHI, June 24: The death toll from Saturday’s thunderstorm climbed to 200 people on Sunday as the government did little to provide relief to the victims.
In the meantime, the Met office forecast more rain for Monday.
Sindh Health Minister Sardar Ahmed told the Reuters news agency that the total number of those killed because of rain was 228.
“These deaths are caused by electrocution, falling trees, house collapses and road accidents.”
A senior official of the Edhi Foundation, Anwer Kazmi, told Dawn that they experienced an unprecedented situation following Saturday’s inclement weather as a flood of bodies was brought in.
“After 7pm, we began receiving bodies from different government and private hospitals and through different police stations across the city,” he said.
Dozens of armed men took over the Edhi morgue on Saturday night and told senior Edhi officials to “mind their own business,” along with issuing other threats.
“They set up a camp outside our premises putting up their party flags and parked their ambulances outside the morgue, interfering with our administrative affairs,” said an official of the Edhi Foundation.
At one stage, a pistol was put to the head of chief volunteer Rizwan Edhi when he protested against the intrusion.
“From Saturday evening till late in the night, the armed men didn’t allow the bodies to be shifted to the morgue from the ambulances and private vehicles,” Rizwan Edhi told Dawn.
“They (armed men) were freely moving about the morgue telling the Edhi workers not to interfere,” he added.
Mr Edhi refrained from identifying the armed intruders, but expressed his dismay over the fact that the foundation’s humanitarian work was being hindered by such elements.
“Around 200 people have died from rain-related incidents while 12 bodies that we received during 12 hours are not rain-related deaths,” Rizwan Kazmi of the Edhi Foundation said.
He said that space had to be created in the morgue – which has a capacity of 300 bodies -- by carrying out burials of the older corpses in order to accommodate the incoming bodies.Mr Kazmi confirmed that Special Secretary of the Health Department, Dr Abdul Majid, and a magistrate had visited the morgue.
Narrating an unusual incident, Amanullah, another staffer of the foundation, said that they had received the body of a 65-year-old man, Tayyab Ali, who was clutching the tiny body of his two-month-old grand-daughter close to his chest. Both had died as the roof of their home collapsed in Shadman Town. The bodies were buried on Sunday, he added.
Though there was no mechanism to figure out how many people died from flying hoardings and how many deaths were caused by electrocution or collapsed roofs, Edhi workers said the majority of the deceased had injuries to the head or the upper part of the body.
A list of victims received by the Edhi Foundation during 12 hours, starting 7pm on Saturday, shows that out of 200 victims, over 40 were women with five children, aged between two months and 12 years.
The majority of the victims came from the now defunct districts central and east.
The Met office here on Sunday forecast moderate to heavy rainfall on Monday, saying that a deep depression over India was fast approaching the coastal areas of Sindh.
An official of the Met office said that the maximum temperature on Sunday was recorded at 40 degrees centigrade and the minimum was 25 degrees centigrade with 45 per cent humidity.
He said only traces of rain were recorded in the North Nazimabad and Airport areas. However, the observatories at the Faisal and Masroor bases recorded 3mm and 6mm rainfall respectively.
The Director-General of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, said that Saturday’s dust storm had already been forecast by the Met office and the wind speed of the storm was recorded at 60 nautical miles per hour. A weather system that developed over Gujarat (India) had caused strong winds and heavy rains on Saturday.
He said another weather system was developing in the Arabian Sea and in the next two to three days it would intensify and might move in a north-westerly direction, causing widespread heavy to moderate rains along the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture out into the open sea for the next two days as the sea conditions are likely to vary from ‘very rough’ to ‘extremely rough’ along the coast.
Dr Chaudhry said fishermen would be further notified on Monday afternoon about the weather conditions.
The Adviser to the Chief Minister on Home Affairs, Waseem Akhtar, on Sunday issued a statement warning stern action against the advertising companies whose hoardings had fallen, saying that the licenses of these companies would be cancelled and they would be blacklisted.
The adviser repeated his statement made on Saturday in which he had stated that criminal cases would be registered against these companies.
However, on Sunday three cases pertaining to deaths caused by falling hoardings were registered. Two cases were registered at the Defence Police Station while one was registered at Frere Police Station.
Claims & counter-claims
City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal said that “till now 65 persons” have been reported killed as a result of the rain, however, more information in this connection is being gathered,” a statement issued by the Nazim’s secretariat on Sunday said.
A statement issued by the Sindh Governor, Dr Ishratul Ibad, said that only 66 people had died in rain-related accidents.Opposition members in the City Council issued a statement which claimed that while suggestions of the opposition on advertising bylaws was rejected, permission to put up hoardings along pavements and main roads was issued, putting the life of the common citizens at risk, which was what happed on Saturday.
A young boy was killed and several others were wounded in power riots on Sunday in different parts of the city.
Frustrated over prolonged power outages, protestors again blocked the Super Highway for several hours, setting alight tyres, which caused traffic to come to a halt.
The protest, which was taking place in front of Al-Asif Square, spilled over to nearby Abbas Town at Abul Hasan Ispahani Road where, according to Gulshan Town Police Officer SP Noman Siddiqui, a young boy selling flowers suffered a gunshot wound when one of the protestors opened fire.
The SP was critical of the KESC, complaining that he had been trying to call the utility up for hours, but no one had turned up to rectify the complaints.
The shooting created further tension in the area as the residents were already frustrated over the power outage. At Godhra Camp in New Karachi, five people were wounded as a group of protesters turned on their fellow demonstrators who were advocating against violence.
As a result of the rioting Shah Waliullah Road remained blocked causing hardships for the commuters.
In another incident in the Baradari area of North Karachi, residents pelted stones at the houses that were getting electricity, due to which police had to resort to teargas shelling to disperse the crowd.
Power protests were also witnessed in Karimabad, Gharibabad, M.A. Jinnah Road and adjoining areas.