Pakistan: 44 die in Karachi rain

By Tahir Siddiqui

KARACHI, June 23: At least 44 people were killed and over 200 others injured on Saturday when torrential pre-monsoon rains, accompanied by a severe dust-storm, lashed Karachi, smashing the city's infrastructure and leaving major roads submerged.

Thunderstorms also hammered Hyderabad, Thatta and a number of other towns in Sindh - without taking a heavy toll of human life.

Sindh Health Minister Syed Sardar Ahmad said over 40 people were killed and 160 others injured in rain-related accidents in Karachi.

"Four people were electrocuted and the others died either in wall and roof collapses or after being hit by falling trees and hoardings," he said.

The Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Home Affairs, Waseem Akhtar, said cases were being registered against owners of the hoardings that claimed 19 lives.

The downpour - 17.2 millimetres, according to the Met Office - not only left standing pools of rainwater on many roads but also caused traffic jams.

Sources said that at least five bodies were brought to the city's Civil Hospital, 13 to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and five to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

At least 14 people were killed in roof and wall collapses in Gadap Town, four in Gulshan Town, and three in Saudabad. The bodies of these 20 victims had not reached hospitals till the filing of this report.

The director of the JPMC's emergency centre, Dr Samin Jamali, told Dawn that 13 people were brought dead to the hospital.

"At least two of them were electrocuted and three others were killed when hoardings fell on them."

The JPMC director said at least 60 people, injured in rain-related accidents, were treated at the emergency centre.

The city's chief weatherman, Naeem Shah, told Dawn that the pre-monsoon phenomenon was active over north Arabian Sea and its adjoining coastal areas as the monsoon weather system was swiftly advancing to the region from Mumbai.

"More moderate to heavy rains are expected in the next two days and temperature in the city will range between 41 and 43 degrees Celsius on Sunday," he added.

The weatherman said the afternoon showers also brought down temperature to 31 degrees Celsius on Saturday, while the maximum temperature was recorded at 44.3 degrees Celsius with 78 per cent humidity.

The Director-General of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, said a strong monsoon weather system (deep depression) over India was likely to approach Sindh's coastal areas by Monday.

"Under its influence, widespread rains, with scattered heavy to very heavy rainfall, are likely in southern Sindh and coastal areas, including Karachi."

Fishermen have been advised not to venture out into the sea from Sunday to Wednesday as conditions are likely to vary from 'very rough to extremely rough' along the coast.

A severe duststorm first hit almost every part of the city around 4:30pm, uprooting and dismantling hundreds of trees and a large number of hoardings and signboards. An official of the city government's horticulture department said that the duststorm uprooted an 80-year-old banyan tree near the Lilly Bridge.

Another official from the University of Karachi said winds were so strong that about 40 trees, including neem and banyan trees, fell inside the campus.

The transmission and distribution network of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation and the telecommunication system of the PTCL also went haywire in many areas as power supply to almost half of the city was disrupted and hundreds of telephones went out of order.

Gusty winds forced cable TV off the air and disrupted the broadcast of at least one FM radio station.

A Karachi-bound flight from Islamabad (PK-396) was diverted to Muscat while two flights from Gwadar were diverted to Turbat due to the inclement weather.

Intikhab Hanif in Lahore adds: A 'deep monsoon depression' brought rain to upper Punjab and the NWFP on Saturday.

In Lahore, the rain gave joy to people reeling under a relentless heatwave.

A number of low-lying areas were inundated.

rain which was somewhat heavy in some areas, inundating low lying areas.

According to the Met office, Islamabad, Murree, Sialkot, Risalpur, Kohat, Bahawalpur, Sargodha and Mandi Bahauddin also received light rain.

"It was a pre-monsoon rain generated by a strong monsoon system," chief meteorologist Shaukat Awan said.

A westerly system moving across Iran would reach the Northern Areas around June 25. It would accentuate the impact of the monsoon depression, hitting other parts of the country at the same time, he said.

By 5pm Lahore's met office had recorded 11mms of rain at the airport and 7mms at its Jail Road observatory. The maximum temperature was 35.4 degrees Celsius and the minimum 28. Humidity was nearly 60 per cent.

The met office forecast that Lahore and its periphery would receive light rain on Sunday.


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