Pakistan: Heavy rain batters Gwadar, cyclone eyes Karachi

Report
from DAWN Group of Newspapers
Published on 06 Jun 2010 View Original
By Saleem Shahid and Bhagwandas

QUETTA / KARACHI: Widespread torrential rains, accompanied by cyclonic winds, lashed the Makran coast and parts of central Makran on Friday.

Cyclone Phet hit Makran coast and started moving towards Karachi and other parts of Sindh in the afternoon.

Navy personnel rescued six fishermen trapped in the cyclone two kilometers off Jiwani.

Hundreds of fishing boats were reported missing in Gwadar, Pasni, Jiwani and Peshkan areas.

At least 25 people were injured.

Thousands were rendered homeless as hundreds of mud houses were washed away by heavy rains along the entire Makran coast. Although some people were shifted to relief camps, the authorities failed to reach others because of disruption of road links.

A large number of people took refuge on hillocks in Jiwani, Gwadar and Pasni after their homes were submerged.

Floodwater also entered the building of Radio Pakistan in Gwadar, disrupting FM transmission.

Gwadar was submerged by the unprecedented rain.

The town received more than 370 millimetres of rain.

Torrential rains were lashing the area up to Ormara, suspending traffic on the Coastal Highway. The highway was damaged at several points and a bridge linking Gwadar with Jiwani was washed away.

Most of the small mud dams built in the region for irrigation and drinking water were also washed away, while other dams were under severe pressure because of floods in all seasonal streams and rains in the catchments areas.

"The port city of Gwadar is under rainwater," Balochistan Fisheries Minister Hamal Kalmati told Dawn. He said there was no way to drain the water and people had been forced to leave their homes.

Gwadar's Deputy Commissioner Pasand Khan Buledi said the Mullah Band locality, near the port, had been badly affected and around 2,000 people had been shifted to camps.

He said most of the damage had been caused by heavy rains.

Personnel of the army, the navy, the Frontier Corps and the Coast Guard were carrying out evacuation from flooded areas.

"The Gwadar port is safe and a ship anchored there has been sent to the open sea to avoid any damage," the deputy commissioner said.

He said the torrential rains continued for over 10 hours.

Gwadar and other coastal towns were without power supply for the past 24 hours and the telephone network was also disrupted in the entire region, causing difficulties in collecting information about the damage.

"Only 25 people, two navy personnel and six Levies men among them, were injured in Gwadar, Jiwani, Pasni and Peshkan," Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said.

Around 40 villages were badly affected in Gwadar district. Houses were also damaged by rain in Turbat district.

Mirani Dam was safe despite floods in Dashat and Neheng rivers.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani allocated Rs500 million for the affected areas.

The Met Office forecast that rains would continue lashing coastal regions of Balochistan for 48 hours. Meteorologists also predicted that rains would lash the plains of Balochistan and Sindh on Monday and Tuesday.

Phet is now expected to hit Karachi on Sunday, bringing in its wake moderate-to-heavy showers.

The sea along the Sindh capital swelled and got rough with the water touching the protection wall along the coast from Shirin Jinnah Colony to the DHA peninsula. Waves were seen hitting the wall forcefully and some even spilled over it on Saturday evening.

Several roads to the beach were closed to keep adventurers away from the sea.

Some parts of the city received light showers around midnight on Saturday.

Pakistan Meteorological Department's Director-General Dr Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry said the system was expected to move eastwards and weaken before making landfall near the city on Sunday. The wind strength will range between 60 and 80km per hour, accompanied by a surge of two to four metres.

He said Balochistan's coastal belt received a heavy spell of rain. Gwadar recorded 370mm of rain, Jiwani 208mm; Pasni 139mm; Turbat 63mm and Ormara 60mm. The wind speed averaged 120 kilometres per hour.

Sindh was also expected to get widespread heavy rain on Sunday and Monday, Mr Zaman added.

RESCUE OPERATION:

The Navy's Coast Commander, Vice-Admiral Tayyab Dogar, said almost 70 per cent people had been shifted from vulnerable coastal areas of Sindh to relief camps.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum's chief Mohammad Ali Shah said six boats with about 75 fishermen were in the open seas. He said that one boat from Jati and another from Rehri, in Karachi, had gone to Sir Creek and Kajar Creek, but were yet to return.

Four fishing boats were found stuck in a Jiwani creek and navy personnel were asking the 60 fishermen inside to leave their boats and come to the coast, but the fishermen were defying orders.

The Sindh health department has set up control rooms with the following phone numbers: Badin (0297861871), Thatta (0298920194) and Karachi (99204203 and 99203108).

DAWN Group of Newspapers:
© The DAWN Group of Newspapers