Rains affect relief work: •400,000 displaced in Balochistan •Mirani Dam safe •Power, gas supplies disrupted •No traffic on highways
QUETTA, June 28: As heavy to moderate rains continued to lash different parts of Balochistan on Thursday, nine people died in Harnai and Turbat. The rainfall hindered a massive rescue and relief operation launched by the army and the Frontier Corps in worst-affected areas.
Provincial Home Secretary Tariq Ayub said that over 400,000 people had been displaced by this week’s cyclone and flash floods. Troops were carrying out rescue and relief work in the affected areas and helicopters were moving the marooned people to safe places.
Hill torrents triggered by torrential rain wreaked havoc in Chagai and Naushki districts, disrupting rail and road communications between Quetta and Zahidan and causing breaches in the main railway line.
Local officials confirmed the death of three people in Harnai when the Nari River devastated the downstream area in the Kachhi plains, mainly in Jhal Magsi and Jaffarabad.
The Mula River was also in high flood following intermittent rains in its catchment area of Khuzdar and Kalat districts. Paddy and cotton crops were under more than two feet of water in Jhal Magsi and Jaffarabad. Some breaches have occurred in the Right Bank Outfall Drain, damaging crops in the area.
Local people themselves plugged some of the breaches and the government machinery was nowhere to be seen, a local resident told this correspondent.
The worst-affected area is Turbat and district Nazim Mir Abdul Rauf Rind confirmed six deaths on Thursday. More rain has been forecast for the region.
There was some improvement in the Mirani Dam situation as the water level dropped by two feet in the absence of fresh rains in its catchment areas spread over the Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan. The discharge from the spillway and the main dam to the downstream area was recorded at 250,000 cusecs.
During the peak crisis period, the inflow of water was over 500,000 cusecs, both from Kech Kaur and the mighty Nihing, and the discharge a mere 250,000 cusecs, local engineers told Dawn on telephone.
A team of army engineers is assisting the Wapda authorities in keeping a close watch on the Mirani Dam. The Army Engineering Corps has been permanently posted there to help the civilians in protecting the dam.
Officials denied an electronic media report that some cracks had developed in the main structure of the dam. “The water level in the Mirani Dam has dropped to 266 feet from the 271 feet level,” sources said.
Telecommunication links have been completely cut off and only a few mobile networks are functioning. There was no traffic on any of the major highways, including the inter-provincial highways and roads because most of the bridges, causeways and culverts have been washed away.
There was no traffic between Karachi and Quetta, Khuzdar and Shahdad Kot, Quetta and Sibi, Sibi and Jacobabad, Quetta and Naushki, Naushki and Taftan, Karachi and Turbat, and Karachi and Gwadar because all roads have been washed away or damaged.
Hundreds of electricity poles have either fallen or have been swept away by rain or flash floods in major parts of Balochistan, plunging almost the entire province into darkness.
The power house in Pasni is under water and flash floods have devastated its equipment, local residents said, adding that it would be very difficult for the government to restore power supply soon because all infrastructure had been destroyed.
In areas where a relief operation could not be launched because of floods and inclement weather, helicopters are being used to drop food and other goods.
“We have started relief and rescue operation in the worst-affected areas of Makran, Jhal Magsi and the coastal region,” the home secretary said, adding that bad weather was the main hurdle to relief work in affected areas because helicopters could not fly for most parts of the day.
Four C-130 military transport planes rushed relief goods, including food to Turbat and Gwadar while eight helicopters were used for rescue work.
Pakistan Army helicopters rescued more than 45,000 people from the Turbat region. More than 1,000 people were rescued from the coastal region.
Addressing a press conference at the Quetta Club, Brigadier Mir Waqar of Pakistan Army said the main objectives of the relief operation was to rescue the marooned people and provide them adequate relief and finally to rehabilitate them.
Experts from the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) removed boulders from the main railway near Mach and restored railway traffic. Personnel of the Frontier Corps, Balochistan, also went to the help of thousands of passengers stranded between Sibi and Mach and provided them food, water and other essential goods.
The Bolan River is still in spate.
Because of suspension of gas supply there is a severe shortage of food as most of the hotels, restaurants and bakers suspended their work while housewives have switched over to LPG.
The home secretary said that commandos had reached Turbat by navy helicopters and rescued 22 people who had taken refuge on the roof of a partly inundated mosque in the Solband area. He said that troops also rescued several thousand people from Methari and other areas of Bolan, Sibi, Nasirabad and Jaffarabad districts.
He said that a small dam had been washed away in Dalbandin area and the flood water had entered the township. People marooned in Hingol area could not be rescued so far.