ISLAMABAD / RAWALPINDI: A section of the Awami Markaz— which had been badly burnt during the September 2017 blaze — collapsed on Tuesday. However, no casualties were reported on the ground.
Separately, however, two people died in the federal capital in separate incidents.
Police and rescue teams said that a dilapidated wing of the Awami Markaz collapsed on Tuesday following consistent rains in the city overnight.
Secretariat police station SHO Inspector Amjad said that three security guards are deputed at the abandoned building, however, none of them was hurt when the east wing of the building collapsed.
He added that soon after they were informed about the incident, they rushed to the site and cordoned it off for the public and prevent any further mishaps.
Inspector Amjad added that the building was evacuated and declared dilapidated after the blaze in 2017. As a result, he said that all the offices situated in the building had been shifted elsewhere.
He added that the heavy rainfall had left the building quite weak, causing it to collapse.
Later, Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz also visited the site.
A fire had broken out in the six-storeyed office block, located off Constitution Avenue (Shahrah-e-Dastoor) in the federal capital opposite the PTV Headquarters, on a Sunday in September 2017.
Suspected to be caused by a short-circuit in the Federal Tax Ombudsman’s office located on the ground floor of the building. Firefighters had initially managed to contain the fire but high winds caused it to reignite and spread throughout the building.
The blaze eventually claimed three lives including Ali Raza and Umer Ejaz — employees of Outpost Company, a call centre inside the building. Raza and Ejaz had both jumped from their fourth-floor office to save themselves.
Waqar, the third victim, was a resident of Rawalakot in Azad Kashmir was working as support staff at the Atex Software Company. He was inside the building when the fire broke out and passed away due to intense heat and suffocation from the smoke.
Dams filled to the brim
Owing to the ongoing spell of monsoon in the country, all three dams — which are the main sources of water for the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, are filled to the brim.
Official figures suggest that water in the Rawal Dam has risen to its capacity of 1,752 acres/feet (ft). However, its capacity was reduced to 1,751 acres/ft after its spillways were opened.
Similarly, the Khanpur Dam currently has water above the level of 1,900 acres/ft. It has a capacity of 1,920 acres/ft.
The Simly dam reservoir has also been filled.
With the monsoon season still underway, it is expected that the spillways of Rawal dam will be opened for a third time this year.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department’s (PMD) has predicted further fains in the country until Saturday. However, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat on Tuesday said that they were fully prepared to tackle any flash-flood like situation in the city. In an audio message, Shafqat said that the city administration has created awareness amongst the residents, especially those living in low-lying areas of the city and along the banks and catchment areas of rivers Korang and Sawan to take precautionary measures for protecting precious lives and property during flash-floods in the city.
The DC said that their the administration had already imposed Section-144 under which a complete ban on taking baths, swimming and carrying out other activities in the Korang and Sawan rivers, along with Rawal and Simly dams besides storm drains until September 3.
Furthermore, Shafqat said that revenue officers have been assigned to clear encroachments from low-lying areas. He added that the ICT administration is in constant contact with all concerned departments including the Federal Flood Department, provincial bodies, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and Polyclinic hospital administration, rescue services and Pakistan Navy teams to tackle any untoward situation.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA), he said, has dredged all city nullahs and other water channels to ensure the smooth flow of rainwater.
An effective coordination system was in place with Rawal dam authorities for issuing timely alerts in case of spillways’ opening.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2019.