Pakistan

Pakistan: Heavy rain aggravates flood threat

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By Zulfiqar Ali

PESHAWAR, July 3: Authorities in Dera Ismail Khan set up two relief camps after the water level in Chashma barrage hit a critically high point on Sunday, according to the provincial flood relief commission. The camps have been set up in the villages of Himmat and Rangpur.

The NWFP Flood Warning Centre said that the water level at Chashma barrage had reached 524,769 cusecs. An official of the centre attributed the increase to the release of water from Tarbela dam, which has also built pressure on River Kabul at Nowshera. Vast tracts of land in Nowshera city's suburbs have been inundated.

The centre also said that the Kabul, Swat and Indus rivers were in high flow at different points.

Officials expect the water level in the River Kabul to rise further due to the rapid melting of glaciers and torrential rains in Afghanistan. They said that the water from different rivers and hill torrents in the northern parts of Afghanistan would soon enter the River Kabul.

The situation has been aggravated by Saturday's heavy downpour in Peshawar and other areas, a local hydrologist said.

The provincial flood relief commission said in a statement that the water level in the River Chitral had been rising and many villages along its banks had been inundated.

The River Kabul and its tributaries have inundated an 800-metre stretch of road between Takhtabad and Wazirabad in Peshawar district. The road between Matta and Khawza Khela in Swat district is also under water.

Relief activities are under way in Peshawar, Charsadda and Nowshera and flood-hit people are being moved to safe places.

APP adds: The River Swat is in high flood at Munda, the River Kabul is in high flood at Warsak and Nowshera and the Indus is in high flood at Kalabagh.

The River Indus is in medium flood at Chashma and in low flood at Taunsa and Guddu while the rivers Chenab and Ravi are in low flood at Marala and Balloki respectively.

According to a report of the Flood Forecasting Division, the discharge of Indus is likely to range between 4,80,000 cusecs and 500,000 cusecs (medium flood level) between 1800 hours on July 5 and 1200 hours on July 6.

According to weather experts, there will be scattered light to moderate rain over the upper catchments of all the major rivers and in northern and north-eastern Punjab. Isolated rain is likely to occur over central and south-western Punjab and also over lower Sindh's coast and north-eastern Balochistan and the NWFP.

The meteorological radar recorded scattered light to moderate rain over Gujranwala, Lahore and Sargodha divisions;: isolated light rain was reported from Multan, Faisalabad, Kohat, D.G. Khan, Rawalpindi and D.I Khan divisions along with northeastern Balochistan and upper catchments of the rivers Ravi and Chenab.

Meanwhile, the water table is still rising owing to the fast melting of snow in the catchment area of Tarbela reservoir.

Sources at Tarbela Dam said they expected a heavy inflow of about 500,000 cusecs in the reservoir through the Indus during the next 48 hours.

The sources said that owing to a forecast of another 500,000 cusecs of flood water in the Indus, the authorities have taken necessary steps to absorb the expected quantity of water in the reservoir.

"We are already releasing about 175,000 cusecs of surplus water daily from the reservoir through an auxiliary spillway while an additional quantity of 120,000 is being flushed out through the service spillway in the process of electricity generation," he said. He said that the dam authorities had also kept its service spillway open for about 48 hours.

The inflow of water has receded from 352,000 cusecs on Saturday to 339,000 cusecs on Sunday. Sunday's outflow was measured at 295,000 cusecs from 250,000 cusecs on Saturday.

About the decrease in the water inflow, the sources said that the current wet spell in the upper regions, particularly in the Northern Areas, had changed the weather a bit and had helped stop the snow from melting to some extent.

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