Monsoon rain crippled Karachi on Tuesday, and the unpopular government came under pressure to provide relief for about 300,000 people left homeless by floods in the south.
“We have recorded 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) of rain in Karachi and the situation is pretty bad. It can turn even worse,” said Mohammad Hussain Syed, the city’s district coordination officer. He said no casualties had been recorded.
A new spell of monsoon rains began on Monday and heavy rains are predicted to continue for the next 24 to 36 hours. “The rains could cause the nullahs and rivers of Sindh and eastern parts of Balochistan, including Khuzdar, Lasbela and Kharan to flood,” Pakistan Meteorological Department’s Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz told The Express Tribune. “It could also raise the water level in Hub dam.”
They recorded 108 mm in Kearmari and 105 mm in North Karachi. “The rains will lose their intensity in the next 24 hours but it will continue to shower,” said Riaz.
As a result of flooding on II Chundrigar road, many banks stayed closed in Karachi. “I thought I would be able to make it to work, but it was a wrong decision. Now I am stuck. My car has broken down and I can’t even find anyone for help,” said banker Khalid Hussain, standing knee-deep in water.
In the countryside, flood victims condemned the government, echoing sentiment during last year’s disaster. “We are on our own. I don’t know how we are going to survive,” said Mala Badal, who took refuge with 800 others in a school that is serving as a shelter in Tando Adam.
She and her fever-stricken baby, who constantly moaned in pain, spent Monday night in the shed of a grocery shop as heavy rain pounded the area.
Near the town of Badin, 65-year-old Bani and hundreds of others built shelters from branches, sheets and plastic as goats roamed nearby. The floods took many by surprise. “Everything we have is destroyed. Our landlords gave us food but not the government,” said Bani. “When the water came we just grabbed a few belongings, anything we could carry, like the beds. We have just the clothes we are wearing.”
Monsoon rains sweep the subcontinent from June to September and are crucial for agriculture. Officials said they were doing their best to help people. “In many areas the flooding has completely cut off villages. So we can’t even reach those people. We have asked the army’s engineering corps to help move these people,” minister for rehabilitation Muzafar Ali Shujra told Reuters.
The Islamabad government, reliant on an $11 billion IMF loan to keep the economy afloat, will face another setback if floods cause heavy damage to the vital agriculture sector. Floods have caused only minor damage to the sugarcane and rice crops, officials said, though weeks of downpours have already destroyed about 13 percent of the crucial cotton crop.
Sukkur, Rohri, Ghotki, Daharki, Thull and some parts of the Kashmore district are experiencing light showers punctuated with short, overcast dry spells. The downpour began in upper Sindh early on Tuesday and is still going on.
Having blown itself out in the process of destroying and flooding lower Sindh, the monsoon spell has lost its intensity. Though persistent, the rain in Sukkur, Rohri, Ghotki, Daharki, Thull, Jacobabad, Kashmore and other parts of upper Sindh was comparatively light, with only Thull reporting a 15-minute-heavy shower in the morning.
While most people rushed home, a few hundred families plucked up the courage to visit to the Mohammad Bin Qasim Park, albeit for a short while. “Can you guarantee that the rain will remain light and not become violent like in Badin and other cities?” said a woman as she hurried home. With their customers gone, the vendors selling pakoras, gol gappas and popcorn also left.
The only people undeterred by the Met department’s dire warnings of storms were the children and youngsters who rushed into the streets wearing shorts and t-shirts. The teenaged boys mount their motorcycles and find it particularity entertaining to speed through the pools of water splashing pedestrians – especially women. Two of these daredevils skidded and fell off the motorcycle, injuring themselves, but bounced right up and sped away.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2011.
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