Monsoon rains continue to wreak havoc

CHITRAL/
MANSEHRA/
LAHORE:

Several fatalities were reported on Saturday across the country as monsoon downpours continued to pummel parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, while a deluge from rain-swollen rivers inundated low-lying areas, prompting the relevant authorities to issue warnings.

Officials have warned that rising levels in the mighty Indus River that courses through the country’s second-most populous region – and fed by dozens of mountain tributaries to the north – threaten to flood adjacent areas, breaching their banks and causing more damages.

Local authorities have been on high alert, closely monitoring water levels in rivers, dams, and reservoirs. Flood control measures have been implemented, and evacuation orders issued in certain areas to ensure the safety of residents.

Further, several major cities are bracing for flash floods triggered by rains that are expected to continue for the next few days.

The weather forecast has predicted more monsoon showers in the country between July 22 and 26, warning of urban and flash floods in low-lying areas in Punjab and K-P.

Besides deaths, several others – including children and women – were reported to have suffered injuries when roofs caved in after rains coupled with gusty winds lashed houses in Mansehra district, while residential and commercial buildings were inundated by floodwater, causing losses of millions of rupees in several areas.

According to a situation report issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of K-P, an Afghan woman and her child died after the “iron roof of a house collapsed” on Mansehra’s Chinar Road.

In another similar rain-related roof collapse on Bedra Road, heavy rainfall caused the wall of a mud house to crumble on a sleeping family.

A six-year-old succumbed to injuries in a hospital.

Rains pound Lahore

Similarly, continuous rains in several villages and cities in Punjab, including Lahore, continued to lay waste to lives and agricultural lands.

Many roads were submerged in water, resulting in a disruption in the power system, while efforts to restore electricity and rescue the victims remained crippled by rains.

According to reports, two boys drowned due to the excessive rainfall – a 17-year-old boy in rainwater under the Do Moria Pull and a 12-year-old near Thokar Niaz Baig.

Read Glacial outburst threatens Chitral villages

Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said in a tweet that Lahore had received “a whopping 203mm of rainfall in just 5 hours”.

According to state broadcaster Radio Pakistan, the CM visited various areas in Lahore to review the drainage situation, directing relevant authorities to utilise all available resources for the drainage of rainwater.

He also instructed that the number of dewatering pumps being used for this purpose should be increased.

The CM directed relevant departments to complete the drainage work at the earliest.

Rains in Lahore also resulted in power outages, and according to a statement issued by the Lahore Electric Supply Corporation (Lesco), electricity supply from 70 of its feeders had been suspended.

“Lesco staff have been put on high alert, but difficulties are being faced in the restoration [of electricity supply] due to heavy rain,” the statement read. “The work will be resumed as soon as the rain stops.”

It also urged citizens to keep a distance from electric installations during rains and avoid putting up stalls below high-voltage wires and transformers.

Accordingly, the Lahore authorities have also restricted citizens from swimming in the Ravi River and canals, as well as “playing” on their banks, for a week, citing rising water levels and amid reports of flooding in various nearby villages due to overflowing streams.

In a notification, Lahore Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rafia Haider said that the public, especially youth, while visiting River Ravi and canals bathe in these water bodies, do boating and play on their banks, putting their lives in danger.

“Heavy rain spell[s] this season may cause unfortunate incidents of drowning and loss of precious human lives,” the notification read.

The DC said, “In my opinion, there are sufficient grounds to proceed under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1989, as an immediate prevention and speedy remedy in the matter and directions, hereinafter are necessary to prevent loss of human lives and disturbance of public peace and tranquillity in Lahore district.”

Therefore, she added, a prohibition was being placed on “swimming/bathing/boating in River Ravi and canals besides playing on the banks of these water bodies in Lahore district” from July 22 to 28 (Friday).

In a separate statement, the DC said that there was a complete restriction on going close to Ravi River for any “leisure or business” purposes, adding that families residing near the water body and their animals should be moved to safer locations.

“The water level is consistently rising and I appeal to the citizens to cooperate,” she said, assuring that the district administration was prepared to deal with any emergency situation.

Flood levels

According to the PDMA report, there is a “very high” flood level in the Chitral River, which has partially damaged nine houses and five public infrastructures as well as inundated six houses in the Chitral district.

It said that the flood has caused the river to overflow, enter nearby houses and damage the standing crops along the river course.

The PDMA also stated that four roads were blocked in the Lower Chitral district due to the river discharge increasing because of “torrential rain resulting [in] flash flooding in streams”.

It said that four roads were blocked in the Upper Chitral district as well for the same reason while routes for one-way traffic had been opened at two locations in the Upper Dir district after the roads there were closed for all kinds of traffic earlier on Saturday.

The PDMA added that “road clearance activities” were in progress in Upper Chitral while heavy machinery was being mobilised to restore traffic in Lower Chitral as well.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Meteorological Department predicted more monsoon showers in the country between July 22 and July 26, warning of urban and flash floods in low-lying areas in the Punjab and K-P.

Monsoon currents are continuously penetrating the country from the Bay of Bengal and a westerly trough is affecting upper parts of Pakistan that may persist during the next few days, according to the PMD.

Apart from Punjab and K-P, rains or thundershowers may also hit southern and southwestern regions.

“Heavy rains may cause urban flooding in low-lying areas of Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Gujranwala, Lahore from July 22 to 26 and may trigger landslides in the vulnerable areas of Murree, Galliyat, Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and hilly areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa during the period,” the PMD said in a statement.

“Heavy rain may generate flash flooding in Kashmir, Dir, Swat, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Manshera, Abbottabad, Rawalpindi/Islamabad during July 22 to 26, while in hill torrent of Dera Ghazi Khan and adjoining areas of northeast Balochistan July 22 and 23.

“Heavy rains may trigger water logging in low-lying areas of Karachi and Hyderabad during July 22 to 24.”

The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) said that Indus, Kabul and Chenab rivers were experiencing low-level floods at Tarbela, Kalabagh, Chashma, Wasarak, Nowshera and Marala, respectively while other rivers of the Indus River System were running normally.

According to the daily FFC report on Saturday, a medium- to high-level flood was expected in Chenab and Jhelum along with associated nullahs of Ravi and Chenab during the next 48 hours.

The combined live storage of Mangla, Tarbela, and Chashma reservoirs stood at 9.648 million acre-feet (MAF) of a total of 13,443 MAF.

According to Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) Lahore, strong moist currents from the Bay of Bengal and mild moist currents from the Arabian Sea were penetrating the upper parts of Pakistan up to 7,000 feet.

A weak seasonal low continues to prevail over Balochistan.

For the next 24 hours, FFD has predicted scattered to widespread wind thunderstorms/rain of moderate and heavy intensity with isolated very heavy falls over the upper catchment of Sutlej, Ravi, and Chenab rivers along with Punjab (Lahore and Gujranwala) and Balochistan (Southern parts of Kalat Division).

Scattered to widespread wind thunderstorms/rain of moderate intensity with isolated heavy fall is also expected over the upper catchments of Indus, Jhelum, K-P, the rest of Punjab, Sindh along with Balochistan (Zhob, Loralai, Sibbi and Nasirabad Divisions) during the said period. (With Input from APP)


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