KARACHI : Large swathes of Karachi are underwater due to a prolonged period of rainfall that started on Wednesday night and continued through Thursday. Surreal scenes were witnessed across the city as cars, motorcycles sank underwater and the bodies of dead animals floated through the streets.
Around a dozen people and many sacrificial animals have been killed across the city in rain-related incidents since the start of the late monsoon spell. The total death toll in the city due to rains this week has risen past 40.
Instead of attempting to address the crisis situation and initiate rescue operations, provincial and local government officials kept passing the buck. Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar bluntly said that the situation was out of the control of the authorities under him.
Major thoroughfares were flooded in posh localities such as Defence Housing Authority and Clifton. A balcony collapse was also reported in the Pakistan Chowk area in which five sacrificial animals were killed.
As monsoon rains continued to lash the city on Thursday, Karachi Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra requested the Pakistan Army’s assistance for rescue and relief activities.
“The Karachi administration requested the army to assist them in managing [the] impact of torrential rain in the city,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Thursday.
The army, the military’s media wing added, is extending its full assistance and water extraction pumps have been dispatched. The Army chief has also directed that all possible assistance be provided to help citizens, it said.
Pakistan Navy is also assisting the city administration. According to a navy spokesperson, the navy is providing water pumps to drain several areas of the metropolis, and has also sent boats and divers to assist in rescue operations.
The heavy rainfall severely disrupted transport in the city including flights at Jinnah International Airport.
Meanwhile, a 150-foot breach in Thaddo Dam led to a massive amount of water gushing out and flooding the outskirts of Karachi. The district administration is receiving help in the rescue operation from Pakistan Navy.
Black as night
The rain was accompanied by power supply interruptions in many areas of the city as around 80 K-Electric (K-E) feeders tripped across the city. According to K-E Communications Director Sadia Dada, restoration work on around 40 tripped feeders did not start until Thursday evening as many of the areas were submerged due to urban flooding.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who is performing Hajj, called provincial ministers and the Sindh chief secretary from Saudi Arabia and instructed them to address public grievances during the heavy rain. The CM told provincial ministers Jam Khan Shoro and Syed Nasir Shah to visit areas of the city where water has accumulated and get them cleared.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has directed the Sindh Rangers director general to utilise all resources in rescue and relief operation in flood affected areas of Karachi. The interior minister directed the Rangers DG to set up relief camps to secure affected persons and assist the civil administration.
“In this time of crisis, the federal government stands shoulder to shoulder with the citizens of Karachi,” said Iqbal. He observed that natural disasters require collective efforts from all, while adding that the dangers could be mitigated if better precautionary steps were taken.
Other areas in southern Sindh also received heavy rains. Hyderabad received 79 millimetres of rain on Wednesday – the highest amount in the region.
An assistant lineman of the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company Muhammad Nawaz Bathyal, 40, was electrocuted while working on a high tension line in Burhan Nagar, Hyderabad.
According to data released by Pakistan Meteorological Department, 46mm of rain was recorded in Thatta district, 45mm in Benazirabad district, 35mm in Mirpurkhas district, 32mm in Tharprkar district, and 13mm in Badin district.
The rain left nearly the entire region without electricity, while residents of low-lying localities in urban and semi-urban areas were in ankle-deep water.
According to the Met Department, the rains are expected to continue for three more days.