Deadly floods uproot millions

Sindh, K-P, Balochistan bear the brunt of ongoing monsoon season


Our Correspondent August 27, 2022
Relentless downpours left a wake of destruction in the Mahandri area of Balakot. Photo: Express

PESHAWAR/LAHORE/QUETTA: Heavy downpour on Friday continued to pummel parts of the country already battered by calamitous floods of epic proportions, unleashing a fresh wave of death and destruction in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

Scores of people died in K-P, where heavy rains for the second consecutive day triggered devastating floods in rivers and streams that also swept away several homes near their banks, hotels in hilly resorts, while Balochistan remained cut off from the rest of the country due to fresh rains.

The K-P government declared rain emergency in several districts as flash floods triggered by torrential rains wreaked havoc in most parts of the province, raising the province-wide death toll to at least 238 people, officials said.

They added that rain emergency, which came into effect immediately, would remain in place till August 30 as the Pakistan Meteorological Department forecast another spell of monsoon downpour which might continue in the next week.

Fresh torrential rains pummelled different parts of the province on the second consecutive day. Heavy downpour in Kaghan Valley triggered flash flood in the Munnawar Nullah that swept away 10 people, according to official data.

More than 10 shops, two hotels and eight vehicles were swept away in Mahandri due to severe flooding in the stream. A mosque, two schools and a police post were also damaged. The Kaghan highway was closed for traffic at many places, while people on the Kunhar river banks had moved away to safer places.

Those swept away in flash floods included eight members of a family. The rescue workers had retrieved seven bodies so far. These drowned included Mirafazl, 53; Maarouf, 46; Faiza Bibi, 19; Laiba Bibi, 12; Hammad, nine; Irfan, 30; Nishba Bibi, 27 and a one-year-old child.

In the two districts of Hazara Division, the number of people who died due to floods rose to 21. They included five brothers, who were washed away in the flood in Kohistan Debir, while in Kohistan Patan, three women died and two children were injured after their house was damaged by flash floods.

Read Floods to hit economic outlook

Meanwhile, more details of flood-induced devastation in Swat district surfaced on Friday. According to the data, flash flood in the Swat River swept away scores of shops and hotels, more than 200 fish hatcheries, 150 houses and two mosques in the tourist resorts of Kalam, Bahrain Bazaar, Hareen and Madyan.

At least 12 deaths were reported in the Matta tehsil of Swat. A house collapsed after a landslide near Matta, burying seven residents under its debris. Five bodies were also recovered from water in other areas of Matta tehsil.

Meanwhile, rescue workers faced difficulties in relief operation, as the land route to difference parts of the district was cut off after several bridges were swept away by gushing flood. The communication system, electricity, and telephone lines were also down.

The authorities shut the Kanju-Ayub Bridge for traffic due to the threat of floods there. Electricity was suspended in the area, as electricity pylons near the Kanju Bridge were swept away by the river. The tourists had been instructed to go back.

Officials said that the damages in Swat were many times higher than those in the 2010 floods in the district. An emergency had been declared in the district and the residents on the riverbank had been instructed to move to safer places.

Read more PMD predicts more rain across country, warns of urban flooding

An emergency was also declared in the Upper Dir district, where torrential rains continued on Friday, triggering flash flood in the Panjkora River and other streams in the district, washing away roads, bridges, and houses, according to local officials.

Authorities recovered a body, while government helicopters had been deployed to evacuate the people stranded in floodwater. The flood destroyed a mosque, a fisheries nursery, a restaurant, four three-storey commercial buildings and dozens of shops in the district.

The road links to the district – the Dir-Peshawar Road at Moha Donak Bazaar and the Peshawar Highway at Narhand Khor – were washed away in the flood. More than 50 electricity pylons and various transformers had also been damaged.

Overall, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said at least 238 people died and 251 injured in the province due to rains and floods during the ongoing monsoon rains. At least 19,748 houses, hotels and other buildings were damaged while 959 cattle perished, it added.

The emergency in K-P was imposed on the recommendation of the district administration and the PDMA. The provincial government has launched an official landline number – 091111712713 – and a WhatsApp one – 0304-1033435 – to help the stranded citizens.

Balochistan

Balochistan remained disconnected from the rest of the country after heavy rainfall in Quetta for the second consecutive day. Gas supply to Quetta and other parts of Balochistan was also suspended after floods damaged the main pipeline in the Bolan area.

Besides the gas supply, power supply to Balochistan was also suspended after floods and heavy rainfall damaged the 220kv transmission line between Sibi and Quetta. “No gas supply and no power supply for the last two days,” Dr Irfanullah Tareen, a resident of Quetta, lamented.

A Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) spokesperson said in Karachi, recently a 12" diameter pipeline to Quetta and another 24" diameter pipeline to Balochistan were damaged due to flood near Bibi Nani Bridge in Bolan.

The spokesperson said that heavy floods were a major obstacle in repair efforts, adding that rain was continuing in Bolan and the Bibi Nani Bridge also collapsed the other day.

“Today, even the meagre supply to Quetta from the Zarghoon gas pipeline was suspended due to the flood devastation.”

Also read Pakistan declares emergency amid catastrophic floods

The spokesperson added that the SSGC teams were unable to repair the pipelines because of the floodwater, adding that the work would start only when the water level dropped there. “As soon as the situation improves, our teams will immediately return to the area to repair the affected lines.”

Floods have also hit the Naseerabad Division very hard. Thousands of people have taken refuge at the Quetta-Jacobabad Highway in Dera Murad Jamali. Videos shared on social showed women and children sitting on the highways.

Elsewhere in the country, a Punjab PDMA spokesperson said that moderate to high level of flooding was expected in the Indus River at Kalabagh, Chashma and Taunsa during the next 48 hours, which could affect the Mianwali, Bhakkar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh and Rajanpur districts.

According to the spokesperson, the Indus River might run into flood at Taunsa because of the gushing torrents from the hilly areas of Dera Ghazi Khan Division, while water levels in streams connected to Mount Sulaiman and Salt Range might also rise, posing a risk of flooding.

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