ISLAMABAD: Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are facing the threat of floods because of heavy rains which various districts of the two provinces are likely to receive over the next two days.
The late spell of monsoon has already claimed 11 lives in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Bajaur Agency while eight people have died in Azad Kashmir.
Officials said that torrential rains triggered flash floods in hill torrents in Nowshera, Mansehra and Bajaur Agency. The provincial disaster management authority said that floods had killed three people in Nowshera and six in Mansehra districts. A landslide blocked a portion of the main highway near Garhi Habibullah, Mansehra district.
In Rawalpindi’s Kotli Sattiyan area, Ahmed Nawaz, a retired army man, lost three children—a son and two daughters— when a wall of their room collapsed after heavy rain. The three children were asleep when the wall collapsed on them, killing them on the spot.
National Disaster Management Authority chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir told Dawn on Wednesday that catchment areas of Chenab and Ravi rivers’ distributaries were expected to receive heavy rains over the next two days.
This may cause floods in Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala divisions.
He said the District Management Authority had been placed on alert. Areas around Jhelum river are also likely to receive rains which will raise the level of Mangla dam and will be of benefit to agriculture.
He said the level at Mangla had risen by five feet over the past three days to reach 1,173 feet and was expected to go up by another 10-15 feet during the upcoming spell — sufficient for the irrigation requirements.
He said there were fears of flash flood in urban areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Nowshera, Peshawar, Mardan, Swat and Buner. He said the PDMA was fully operational in the province and working round the clock to cope with any situation and minimise losses.
In reply to a question, he said the threat of drought was not yet fully over, but it had substantially fallen.
He said Makran, Kharan, Chaghai and Washuk areas in Balochistan were not receiving rains and might face drought if the dry weather persisted. “There is no possibility of massive flooding and the heavy downpour is likely to cause medium-level floods.”
The country saw worst flooding of its history in 2010. It affected one-fifth of the population and rendered several hundred thousand people homeless right from Himalayas in the north to the deserts of Sindh in the south. The following year, comparatively low-intensity floods hit the country again, especially parts of lower Sindh.
This year the monsoon spell in the middle of July and August was predicted to cause disaster with a forecast of 15 per cent more than the usual rains, but the situation suddenly changed and the threat of flood turned into one of drought. The situation has once again changed and now moderate floods are likely in at least two provinces.
FLOOD FORECAST FOR PUNJAB: According to the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD), heavy rains triggered a low flood in the Ravi river at Shahdara on Wednesday. The Ravi, Jhelum and Chenab rivers were expected to attain medium to high flood by Friday.
The three rivers swelled because of rains in their catchment areas during Eid holidays.
The FFD centre in Lahore forecast fairly widespread thunderstorm/rain, with isolated heavy to very heavy falls (extremely heavy at one or two places) over Azad Kashmir, northern and north-eastern Punjab (mostly areas falling within Lahore, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi divisions) for Thursday.
Azad Kashmir covers the upper and low catchments of the Jhelum river while northern and north-eastern Punjab constitutes the lower catchments of the Chenab and Ravi. The rain forecast means the water level will shoot up by Friday.
Riaz Khan, the FFD chief, however said the situation was not alarming.
Rain in the Jhelum catchments would help fill Mangla Dam. The Chenab and Ravi were approaching flood level because of rain in their lower catchments in Pakistan while rain in their upper catchments in India was being stored in dams. “Hence there is no threat of devastating floods.”
The FFD reported that a peak of 40,000 cusecs was passing the Ravi at Shahdara on Wednesday evening and the level was rising. The river was in low flood and was expected to attain medium flood level on Thursday.
The FFD expected medium to high flood in Jhelum river at Mangla and in Chenab at Marala and Khanki on Thursday or Friday.
Heavy rains flooded the Dek and Basantar nullahs in Sialkot region, submerging hundreds of acres of agricultural land. Traffic also remained suspended on Narowal-Pasrur road because of the flooding.
The FFD expected more flooding of almost all nullahs in the region over 24 hours.
The Met office reported that Kakul had received 84mm of rain, Murree 77mm, Jhelum 76mm, Sialkot airport 74mm, Mandi Bahauddin 60mm, Mangla 39mm, Kotli 37mm, Sialkot Cantt 32mm, Cherat 29mm, Saidu Sharif 21mm, Islamabad 14mm, Rawlakot 12mm, Muzaffarabad 10mm, Gujranwala 8mm, and Balakot 4mm.
It also forecast scattered thunderstorm/rain with isolated heavy showers over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as Sahiwal, Faisalabad and Sargodha divisions of Punjab for Thursday.
AJK PM’S APPEAL: Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed on Wednesday appealed to the federal government to help his administration in rehabilitation of rain victims.
A spell of relentless rain since Sunday has displaced thousands of people in the region, besides leaving eight dead.
In Muzaffarabad, the capital, one person was killed and landslides threatened over 100 families living on the outskirts of the city. Within the city area, many areas were virtually buried under a huge rock that the gushing rainwater had brought with it.
Four people were killed in Bagh district on Eid day and two children died in Mirpur on Wednesday in incidents of house collapse and drowning.
Officials said almost all inter-city roads had been cleared for traffic.