At least three people — two girls and an elderly woman — were killed and four others seriously injured on Saturday as gales wreaked havoc in Peshawar and other areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) with the Pakistan Meteorological Department recording the speed of wind at 70 to 80 kilometres per hour.
Many houses in Peshawar collapsed due to the damaging winds.
Noman, a resident of Afghan Colony in Peshawar, said that three people in his house were injured when a wall collapsed due to the winds.
According to the initial reports, seven people were rescued from underneath the debris after the roof of a mud house collapsed near Dora Road Achini.
The high-speed winds also uprooted many trees. A 40-year-old tree in Badhai village near Chamkani in Peshawar was uprooted.
An elder of the area, Baba Fazal, said that people of the village had experienced countless storms, but the ongoing one was unusual.
Likewise, the gales uprooted a 50-year-old tree near Haji Baba Mosque in Lakki Marwat, upsetting the residents of the area.
“The storm did not spare the tree as gusts of wind took away our childhood memories from us. On hot summer afternoons, we used to sit and play under the shade of this tree. The old trees in Akbarpura were also uprooted due to the strong winds blowing for the past three days,” a resident said.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, former PMD director general Dr Ghulam Rasool said the winds entered K-P from Multan and DG Khan during the spring season.
“During the season, extreme heat prevails on the plains of central Pakistan, which causes strong winds, while winds from colder areas try to fill the gap quickly,” he said, adding the gales blew in the past as well, but this year their speed was a bit higher.
He said, “At present the temperature in Peshawar is 29 degrees Celsius and in Multan 37 degrees Celsius due to which winds are blowing south from Peshawar. However, in the next two days they will stop.”
The former director general maintained that the ongoing weather phenomenon was not a windstorm as it was merely strong and dry winds.
In 2015, a powerful storm, with speed of 110km per hour entered Peshawar from the Malakand region and then moved on to Islamabad, causing significant damage.
In most parts of the province, including Peshawar, Mardan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat, complaints of watery eyes and nosebleeds have also been received due to the dry winds.
Dr Shehzad, a skin specialist in Peshawar, said that the lack of moisture in the air has increased dryness.
“People affected by dry weather should wear a mask and apply Vaseline on lips,” he said, adding that the winds had whipped up dust and other particles in the air.
The skin specialist said not to panic, advising drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Meanwhile, gusts of winds also affected the power system in the province.
The Peshawar Electric Supply Company spokesperson revealed that winds in the province have uprooted dozens of power poles, tripping 11 feeders. He said that the work was under way to restore power supply.
According to the PMD, winds will likely die down by Sunday, while it predicted rainfall in Peshawar from Sunday.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2021.