Syed Ali Shah | Imtiaz Ali | Imran Gabol | Ali Akbar
At least 21 people have died over the past 48 hours in the first spell of Monsoon rains to hit the country this year.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department said more rain ─ accompanied by thundershowers and gusty winds ─ is expected in various areas on Friday, including Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Hazara divisions, lower Sindh (Hyderabad, Karachi, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Shaheed Benazirabad divisions), Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Met Department added, however, that mainly hot and humid weather is expected in most parts of the country over the next 24 hours as the rain causing moderate monsoon currents penetrating the country were likely to weaken during this time period.
The shallow westerly wave affecting upper parts of the country is also likely to move eastwards during this time, gradually culminating in the current spell of windstorms and rains which had been very heavy at places.
Attendance in offices remained thin on Thursday due to the rain, despite it being the first working day after Eid holidays.
The Met Department said rain/dust-thundershowers with gusty winds occurred at a number of places in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas divisions, while at isolated places in Gujranwala, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Malakand, Hazara, Bannu, Kohat, Zhob, Quetta divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Torrential rain on Thursday wrought havoc on the creaky civic infrastructure of Karachi, causing massive urban flooding and widespread power outages.
The downpour — which began in the city on Wednesday — intensified Thursday evening, dumping a total of 54mm (a little over two inches) of rainfall over 48 hours.
The Met Office said the monsoon current centred over Sindh, yielding more rainfall there than anywhere else in the country.
So far, seven people including five boys have died in rain related incidents in Karachi since the spell first started on Wednesday.
According to officials and rescue service representatives, three persons including two young boys were electrocuted in Keamari, Lyari and Orangi Town on Wednesday.
Two other boys lost their lives to electrocution on Thursday in Liaquatabad and Qalandria Chowk near Sakhi Hasan.
In a separate incident, two boys drowned while trying to swim in water accumulated in an under-construction underpass at Punjab Chowrangi as the construction contractor allegedly did not take the required precautionary measures, police said.
Moderate rains brought a change in weather across the rest of Sindh as a long hot, dry spell ended in the province.
Four people lost their lives due to lightning and rain related incidents mostly in lower Sindh.
Ilyas Dablo died in a rain related incident in coastal district Thatta.
Mahesh son of Ratan Bheel died in Aslam Town of Mirpurkhas due to lightening.
While a woman, called Ami also died due to lightning in Islamkot while lightning also burnt four goats in Kejrari village of Nagarparkar, Tharparkar district.
A 22-year-old motorcyclist died when his bike slipped in Husri area on Wednesday. It rained in Latifabad on second day of Eid.
While rains provided the much needed relief to people, there were prolonged power outages and electricity breakdown in the districts like Thatta, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar and Hyderabad that again compounded their miseries.
Water made its way into several houses when a saline water drain developed a breach in Thatta’s village Mohammad Hassan.
There have been complaints that sanitation staff of local bodies department remained disappeared and people tried to open the drains and drain out rainwater on their own.
Summer crops are sown when it rains in Thar while groundwater’s wells are replenished and people are able to fetch drinking water.
People of Hyderabad received first summer shower preceded by thunderstorm on Thursday evening which continued till 9.30pm intermittently.
From agriculture point of view the rains are being considered beneficial for standing crops, according to President Sindh Abadgar Board Abdul Majeed Nizamani.
Power breakdown in Hyderabad Electric Supply Company’s system made lives of people miserable as they spent sleepless night following Thursday’s rains.
A spokesperson from the electricity company said that in some feeders fault were reported but in most of the cases feeders were closed to avoid any major faults in the electricity system.
Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and GB
In Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Gilgit Baltistan intermittent rain was witnessed in various regions, out of which Chitral, Lower Dir, Bajaur, Shangla and Upper Dir saw minimal rain while Attar Pak saw received the heaviest spell.
The Kabul River was in low flood at Nowshera while all the other major rivers had normal flow.
Low to medium flooding was expected in the nullahs of the Ravi and Chenab along with hill torrents of Dera Ghazi Khan division during the period, the Flood Forecasting Bureau said.
Four people drowned in low floods witnessed in Bajaur’s Shareeb Khana area while one boy lost his life in Chitral in rain related incidents.
A red alert has been issued in parts of the Lasbela and Khuzdar districts of Balochistan as an intermittent downpour in the last 24 hours caused flash floods and disrupted road communication.
Nine people lost their lives in Hub, Lasbela, while five others were rescued from the same area, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) confirmed.
The local administration, with the help of the Frontier Corps, has reached the people stranded in different areas of the district.
A large number of people, who had left for picnics in the area during the Eid holidays were stranded by the floodwater.
Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri took notice of the situation and directed the PDMA and Commissioner of Kalat division Hashim Ghilzai to take immediate steps to rescue and evacuate the stranded people and vehicles from the affected areas.
“A large number of people and passengers were rescued from the affected areas after restoration of road network,” Deputy Commissioner of Khuzdar Sohail-Ur-Rehman told Dawn, adding that efforts were under way to rescue the remaining people.
According to sources, Wagor, Karkh and Mola areas were badly affected. A large number of vehicles were also stuck up in the affected areas.
There were no rain-related deaths reported in Punjab, however, according to a report from the Rescue and Safety department suggests that 54 large and small buildings were affected in weather related incidents, while several people retained injuries.
On Thursday, the maximum temperature in Lahore was 28 degrees centigrade as light rain continued in the city throughout the day.
There were, however, brief spells of somewhat heavy rain. It was heavily overcast in the evening and the Met Office forecast more rain during the night.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday directed the respective departments to be fully vigilant ahead of any flood eventuality and maintain a close and continuous liaison.
Addressing a meeting through video link at Civil Secretariat, he said machinery and other equipment must be fully functional and flood emergency control room set up at provincial, divisional and district levels should work 24 hours, says a handout.
The chief minister made it clear that he would not tolerate any leniency in arrangements for disposal of rainwater in urban areas.
He announced increase in financial assistance from Rs500,000 to Rs800,000 for heirs of those died in rain-related incidents. The financial aid for the injured was also increased.
The chief minister put his helicopter at the disposal of the provincial cabinet committee on floods and said members [of the committee] could use the chopper for field visits.
With additions from a Dawn report published on June 30, 2017
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