KARACHI, June 26: At least five people died from electrocution as rains generated by the curiously named tropical cyclone Yemyin hit the city with gusting winds on Tuesday, putting further strain on the ill-maintained power distribution system and disrupting rail and air traffic.
The cyclone, which roared past the coastal areas of the city, left a trail of destruction in many low-lying localities. The provincial government announced a Rs71 million relief package for the rain victims.
The strong winds with intermittent heavy rains started on Monday night and continued on Tuesday all day across the city, bringing down the minimum temperature to 27 degrees centigrade. The maximum temperature recorded by the Met office in the city was 29 degrees centigrade with 92 per cent humidity.
‘Rains may continue’
The city’s chief weatherman, Naeem Shah, told Dawn that the cyclone went past Karachi with a distance of 90 kilometres and hit the coast of Balochistan at noon between Ormara and Pasni. The wind speed at the peak of the storm in the city during the early morning was recorded at 40 nautical miles (74 kilometres per hour) while 10-foot-high waves broke on the shore.
Mr Shah said that though the cyclone had weakened and almost died down, the rainfall might continue for the next 12 hours (by Wednesday morning).
“Parts of Sindh and Balochistan are expected to receive scattered rainfall during the next 24 hours after the dissipation of the cyclone into a low-pressure area. However, the Met office has advised fishermen that they can resume their normal activities from Wednesday morning,” he said.
The Met office had recorded 61mm of rainfall by Tuesday evening since Monday morning, while 32mm rainfall was recorded on an average on Tuesday.
The Met office observatory at the airport recorded 41mm of rainfall, while Masroor Base recorded 36mm, Model Colony 36mm, New Karachi 25mm, and North Nazimabad 25mm rainfall.
Killer electric wires
Five people died from electrocution in various localities here on Tuesday.
An unidentified man in his mid-30s died after receiving an electric shock in Sir Syed Town police limits. Meanwhile Hafiz Anees, 19, near Al-Karam Square in Federal C Area; Qasim, an eight-year-old boy in Korangi; and Shamsul Haq, 24, in Site also died after they touched live electrical wires. Another teenaged boy died near Sobhraj Hospital from electrocution. His body was sent to a hospital for a post-mortem examination on Tuesday evening.
Disruption in air, rail traffic
Many trains and flights were rescheduled and delayed because of the inclement weather, causing utter confusion and inconvenience to passengers at the airport and the railway stations.
Almost all the trains arrived at the City and Cantonment railway stations four to 12 hours behind schedule, which also ultimately delayed their departure. Passengers at the railway stations were perturbed and the personnel at the counters appeared helpless in giving people the exact timings of train departures or arrivals.
“I have to go to Lahore by train but I don’t know when it will leave as the people at the counters always say it will leave in half an hour. Four hours have now passed,” said Dilawar Hasan, an passenger who was waiting with his family at the railway station.
Similarly, airport officials said that many flights of various airlines were rescheduled or diverted to other destinations due to the bad weather.
Evacuation claims & counter-claims
The city government claimed that it had moved residents of Mubarak Village and its surrounding settlements to safety on Monday night.
However, the official claim was refuted by the general-secretary of the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFFF), who said that people had not been evacuated and a state of despair prevailed in Mubarak and the adjoining fishing villages.
Khuda Gang Shah said that on Monday night public announcements were made in the coastal settlements, mainly comprising fishermen, to vacate their houses and move to safer places, but the government had failed to make any alternative arrangements. He said no transport was provided to the fishermen.
He said that Mubarak Village, a fishermen’s settlement which has a population of 5,000, suffered considerable damage when the roofs of houses were blown off by strong gusty winds.
A resident of the village, Haroon Hasil, told Dawn that several officials of Keamari Town visited the area in the evening and handed over two “deghs of biryani” for the population of 5,000.
He said that 46 houses had been destroyed and 15 had suffered damage due to the overnight gusts.
“I have heard a statement quoting the city nazim that 700 people have been evacuated from Mubarak Village. But nothing of the sort happened here,” Hasil said, adding that town officials came to the village on Tuesday evening.
The PFFF general-secretary said the worst hit was Manghar Goth, which, with a population of 500, is located off Mubarak Village Road and is inaccessible.
The Sindh Rangers, besides participating in relief work on Tuesday, took over traffic management in the city to help the traffic police avoid any chaos during the rains.
The Rangers were seen deployed at various places regulating vehicular traffic with efficiency with the traffic police officials also present.
At spots where no Rangers personnel were present, the traffic police officials were seen at ease, not caring about the regulation of traffic, which was moving at will since the traffic lights were off due to the disruption in power supply.
The officer in charge of the relief operation of the Sindh Rangers, Capt Fazal Mehmood, said that the Rangers provided 120 people with food and other essential commodities in the low-lying areas along the Hawkesbay coast.
“We also stopped fishermen from going into the sea due to the storm warnings,” he said.