At least six people were killed by lightning during heavy rain with thunder in several cities of Punjab on Sunday. The first rain of the winter season turned the weather cold and cleared the smog in Lahore and other areas.
According to rescue officials, 23-year-old Ali was killed by a lightning strike while working in fields in village 14AL near Okara, 30-year-old Adeel in Chak 46 area of Patoki and a 40-year-old man in the border village of Chabar. Adeel was a teacher in a government school.
In Arifwala, Altaf, a resident of 7EB area, was transporting milk when lightning struck him near 15EB village. A resident of 59EB was watering his fields when lightning struck him. Both of them died while they were being taken to hospitals. Mukhtar, a forest department employee, was also killed in a lightning strike in Renala Khurd.
On the other hand, the rain with cold winds and thunderstorm lowered the temperature and brought relief to the citizens from persisting smog and dry weather.
Heavy rain lashed different areas of the provincial capital, including Ferozepur Road, Jail Road, Mall Road, old city areas, Nishtar Town, Gulberg and Johar Town. The commuters had to turn on the car headlights when dark clouds engulfed the city in day time.
Okara, Sahiwal, Burewala, Chichawatni, Arifwala, Sangla Hill, Renala Khurd, Mor Khandha, Gagu Mandi, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Kalashah Kaku, Nankana, Mananwala, Warburton, Patoki and Phool Nagar also received heavy rain. In many areas, hailstorm turned the weather chilly.
The Meteorological Department stated that the winds causing the rain had turned towards India after the first rains of the winter in various districts across Punjab, including the provincial capital.
As a result of decrease in pollution because of the rain, the Air Quality Index in Lahore improved from 303 to 272. The Meteorological Department forecast dry and cold weather for the next three to four days.
According to the Water and Sanitation Agency, the highest rainfall in Lahore of 24mm was recorded at Lakshmi Chowk, while 16mm of rain was recorded at Nakhuda Chowk.
The power distribution system in Lahore and other areas was severely affected, with supply suspended for hours due to tripping of feeders. As many as 345 feeders of Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) tripped during the rain, causing power outages in several areas of the city. The affected areas included Nishat Colony, Saddar, Bhatta Chowk, Ali Park, Chungi Amar Sidhu, Walton, Kot Lakhpat, Green Town, Nasheman Iqbal, Garhi Shahu, Qila Gujjar Singh, Shadbagh, Badami Bagh, Shahdara, Karim Park, Begum Kot, Qila Mohammadi, Bilal Ganj and Raj Garh.
According to LESCO sources, work was going on to restore power supply to some areas till late in the evening.
According to the Meteorological Department, the wind and rain will help in reducing air pollution and smog in Lahore and other districts of Punjab. As the cold weather intensifies, the smog is likely to decrease further.
Health experts said the change in weather would also lead to a decrease in the risk of cold, flu, eye and throat irritation among citizens.
As the temperature dropped, the natural gas pressure in the pipelines also declined drastically. People in the provincial capital faced problems in cooking food as they could not use electric stoves as an alternative to gas because of the disruption of power supply.
The power outage also severely affected the water supply in most areas. The disruption of electricity, water and gas supply caused severe problems for the citizens, especially the elderly and children. Power supply to several hospitals was also affected by the tripping of feeders. A number of citizens complained that power outages on a large scale during the rains indicated the failure of the authorities to maintain and upgrade the distribution system over recent years.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2020.
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