Floods triggered by downpour wreak widespread devastation
KARACHI: Flash floods triggered by heavy rains caused widespread destruction across vast swathes of the country on Monday, breaking a 24-year rainfall record and leaving over 100 people dead in upper Sindh, wreaking devastation in Punjab’s Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur areas and leaving five districts of eastern Balochistan cut off from the rest of the country.
In Sindh, over 100 people were reported dead and scores of others injured as rains and flooding destroyed thousands of houses, rendering a large number of families homeless. Some of them have taken shelter at railway stations.
Jacobabad received the heaviest downpour of 305mm (over 12 inches), while Sukkur, Thull, Kandhkot, Kashmore, Khanpur Mahar, Ghotki, Daharki, Mirpur Mathelo, Rohri, Ali Wahan and Shikarpur received five to 282 millimetres of rain.
Widespread damage to standing crops and agricultural land and residential settlements in rural areas was reported from seven districts of the province.
Flooding also hit urban areas, bringing life to a standstill and submerging roads and streets in all cities and towns of upper Sindh.
A rain emergency has been declared and troops have been called in to help the administrations of the worst-hit districts in relief and rescue work.
Suleman Range hill torrents caused havoc in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts of Punjab.
The Wadoor, Shoori Lund and Soori Khosa hill torrents coupled with a breach in Dera Ghazi Khan Canal affected a large population. The town was partially flooded while farmland over a vast area was submerged.
A violent Kaha hill torrent was threatening Rajanpur’s urban area after inundating Lalgarh town. Gushing water reached the embankment of Mubarik Canal, the last line of defence of Rajanpur town.
Violent currents of 145,000 cusecs in Wadoor, 82,000 cusecs in Shoori Lund and 22,000 cusecs in Soori Khosa torrents breached the under-construction Kachhi Canal and DG Khan Canal.
After the breaches in DG Khan Canal, that is supposed to protect the town from hill torrents, floodwater entered Behari Colony, Railway Colony, Sadeeqabad, Abdulla Town, Indus Colony, Civil Hospital, district government offices, an under-construction medical college, surroundings of Gaddai, the Government Postgraduate College and residential colonies of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Residents of Sadeeqabad, Shamasabad and Abdulla Town took refuge at the platform of the Dera railway station.
Before hitting the town, the torrents inundated areas adjoining Choti Zaireen and Nawn Shehr and destroyed hundreds of acres of standing crop of cotton besides submerging dozens of villages.
According to a preliminary assessment, about 10,000 houses have been affected and 75,000 people displaced in the district.
District Coordination Officer Iftikhar Ali Sahu said the World Heath Programme and World Health Organisation would provide medicines and food to the affected people and the revenue department would assess the losses.
He said the engineering wing of the army was plugging the canal breaches.
In Rajanpur, 60,000 cusecs of water in Kaha Sultan hill torrent inundated Lalgarh area inhabited by Gorchani Baloch tribe and dozens of
villages, damaging standing crops.
The administration is trying to save Rajanpur town.
Five schools have been declared as relief centres for the displaced people.
There was no electricity in the town and its suburbs since the early hours of Monday.
People also faced problems because of the closure of the Quetta-Dera Ghazi Khan road, but Irrigation Department’s Executive Engineer Aabid Rasheed said army teams were working to restore the route.
Meanwhile, rain kept lashing other towns of central and south Punjab.
In Toba Tek Singh, two people died and about a dozen were injured when houses collapsed on the fifth consecutive day of torrential rain.
In Bahawalnagar, one person was killed and three others injured when the roof of a mosque caved in on Sunday night in Macleod Ganj area.
Three members of a family died in Multan when the roof of their house collapsed.
At least five districts of eastern Balochistan were cut off from the rest of the country after floodwater submerged railway tracks and highways in Nasirabad and Jaffarabad.
Hundreds of houses were washed away and thousands of families were rendered homeless in the province.
At least five people were killed and several others injured in rain-related accidents, official sources said.
The administration of both the districts declared an emergency and asked the provincial government to launch a relief operation in the affected areas.
Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani immediately released funds for a relief operation and decided to send tents and food for affected people.
“Eleven districts of Balochistan have been badly affected by the torrential rains over the past four days,” an official told Dawn, adding that the government had decided to call out the army and civil armed forces for shifting the affected people to safe places and providing relief.
Frontier Corps personnel reached the affected areas of Nasirabad, Jaffarabad and Dera Bugti that were cut off from the rest of the country.
As the rains continued, a breach developed in the Pat Feeder Canal in RD238 area because of floodwater coming from streams of Dera Bugti and Kohlu. Source said water gushing from the breach was flowing downstream and might re-enter the canal.
Water flow into the canal was closed at Guddu Barrage on the request of the Balochistan irrigation department. However, over 6,000 cusecs of water was flowing in the canal, an official in Nasirabad said.
Train service between Balochistan and other parts of the country was suspended as the railway track was inundated between Dera Allahyar and Shikarpur.
Thousands of homeless people took shelter along the canal and national highway after losing their mud houses.
“Jaffarabad, Nasirabad and Dera Bugti districts and adjoining areas of Jacobabad and Shikarpur have received around 400mm of rain so far,” officials said.
They said most of the mud-houses in Sui tehsil had been washed away. Sangsilla, Loti and Uch areas of Dera Bugti district were also badly affected.
According to the Met Office, heavy rains were reported in Killa Saifullah, Zhob, Killa Abdullah, Loralai, Ziarat, Harnai, Musakhel, Sibi, Bolan, Nasirabad, Jafferabad, Jhal Magsi, Dera Bugti, Barkhan, Mastung, Kalat and Khuzdar.
Over 40 villages were inundated in Loralai and highways in the area remained closed.
Vast areas in Bolan, Bhag, Dhadar, Balanari, Jafferabad, Chatter, Dera Allah Yar, Sobatpur and Usta Muhammad were also inundated.