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QUETTA, March 2: An overflow from the Akra Kaur dam triggered by torrential rain inundated a number of villages and settlements in Gwadar while heavy downpour in Qila Abdullah, Chaman and adjoining areas claimed at least 20 lives and damaged hundreds of houses.

Gwadar was cut off from the rest of the country as the runway of the Gwadar airport and portions of the coastal highway linking it with Karachi came under water. All Gwadar-bound PIA flights were cancelled.

Many areas of Chaman and Qila Abdullah also had their link with the rest of the province snapped as floodwater washed away roads linking them with the provincial capital.

Traffic was suspended between Quetta and Sibi after heavy flood in the Bolan and other seasonal rivers damaged the national highway connecting Quetta with Sindh and Punjab. The local authorities have declared an emergency in Gwadar and Qila Abdullah and sought early help from the federal and provincial governments.

Army and navy troops mounted a rescue operation in the flood-hit areas of Gwadar district and evacuated around 5,000 people from submerged villages. Personnel of the Frontier Constabulary reached the rain-stricken areas of Qila Abdullah and launched relief efforts.

According to reports reaching here, intermittent rain has been lashing the entire coastal region, including the catchment area of the Akra Kaur dam for two days.

The dam could not bear the pressure of flash floods in the 580-mile catchment area and a breach occurred on Tuesday, Mr Raziq Bugti, a spokesman for the Balochistan government, told Dawn. He, however, hastened to add that the structure of the main dam was intact.

Official sources in Gwadar said that the gates of the spillway were thrown wide open, to drain out additional water so that a disaster on the Makran coast similar to the one resulting from the bursting of the Shadi Kaur dam could be averted.

Most of the areas in Chib Kalmati, Wash Dhoor, Nigwar Sharif and Sur Bandar were under water. However, no loss of life has been reported from the flood-hit areas of the coastal region as people living in villages close to the dam had already been shifted to safe places. But a vast area is under water and road communication between Karachi and Gwadar stands disrupted.

The flash floods are passing through major seasonal rivers and moving towards the Arabian Sea. Jiwani, another coastal town further downstream, received 116-millimeter of rain. Reports of heavy rain were received also from the Central Makran Range, but no loss of life or property has been reported.

Parts of northern and central Balochistan also received heavy rain. At least 20 people were killed and many more injured when houses collapsed in the Qila Abdullah and Chagai districts.

The district nazim of Qila Abdullah confirmed 15 deaths in Chaman and other parts of the district and said that hundreds of houses had collapsed or suffered damage in two days of rain.

"We immediately need 5,000 tents as thousands of people are out in the open because their homes have been damaged," Salauddin Achakzai, the district nazim, said in a handout on the flood situation.

The handout went on to say that people lost their lives mostly in roof collapse incidents. According to reports reaching from Chagai, four persons were killed and an equal number injured in Taftan Nokundi, Dalbandin and adjoining areas. Most seasonal rivers are in high floods.