Monsoon wreaks havoc across the country

Dozens of people lost their lives as torrential rains played havoc across the country on Thursday.


Shahzad Baloch July 22, 2010

Dozens of people lost their lives as torrential rains played havoc across the country on Thursday, with Balochistan being the hardest hit.

At least 30 people were killed and 20 were reported missing as flash floods hit several villages in Barkhan, Sibi and Kohlu districts in Balochistan. More than four thousand people were rendered homeless in floods that followed widespread rains in the region.

At least 5 people were killed in Lahore, including a child who drowned in a pit that filled with rainwater. Over 300 houses in southern Punjab were inundated with water, and residents took to their rooftops to avoid the water.

According to reports, torrential rains wreaked havoc in the three districts in Balochistan as seasonal rivers broke their banks, causing widespread flooding downstream. At least four villages were washed away by rivers in Barkhan, officials confirmed.

Frontier Corps spokesperson Murtaza Baig said over four thousand people had been affected by floods in Kohlu and Barkhan.

In Barkhan torrential rains swept away over 50 people.

“We have recovered 30 bodies, including those of six women, from flooded areas in Barkhan. Twenty people are still missing,” a Levies official told The Express Tribune.

People displaced by the rain were living in tents and other temporary shelters on the banks of the seasonal river in Barkhan, the official said.

Rescue teams in the area were busy trying to retrieve 20 others who had been swept away in the flash flood following the rain. Roads linking Barkhan to other districts were blocked by rainwater, and were not cleared until late evening.

In Sibi, the Nari River breached causing heavy floods in several villages including Talli village, Sultan Kot, Machi Kho, Sivi, Basti Palwan Khan, Chandio, Marri Kot, Ghaffar Kot, Mitari, Leyhri and Ghot Fateh Mohammed. Talli village was completely submerged by flood water. Over 120,000 cusecs of water was flowing from the Nari river at one point, officials confessed. The Talli Bridge was also washed away.

“Around 500 people are trapped or marooned in Talli,” Deputy Commissioner of Sibi Shahid Masood said, adding that four helicopters had been called in for rescue efforts. The DC had travelled to the affected areas taking relief goods and rescue workers with him. Speaking to the media, he said the administration was inspecting damage caused by the rains. “We will call in the Army and the FC if it is needed,” he said.

However, some affectees told a different story. Shaukat Ali, a resident of Talli, told The Express Tribune: “No relief work is being carried out here. Only a single bulldozer is engaged in Leyeri.”

In Kohlu, Tanga dam burst, inundating seven villages with water. Jaffarabad and Nasirabad Districts were also lashed by heavy rain on Thursday.

FC spokesperson Baig said helicopters could not fly out from Quetta to help those affected by floods because of the bad weather. However, he said FC personnel had travelled to flooded areas to help with relied efforts.

Major Hasnain, who heads an FC relief cell, said FC Maiwand Rifles had established a free medical camp in Barkhan and was distributing relief goods to affectees.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mohammad Aslam Raisani expressed his sorrow over the loss of life and directed local officials to do their best to help people recover from the floods.

Apart from Balochistan and the Punjab, Khyber-Pakthtunkhwa also suffered damage due to rains. Torrential rains that lashed Peshawar on Wednesday damaged at least 35 houses, officials said on Thursday. District Coordination Officer (DCO) Peshawar Siraj Ahmed told reporters said that at least 35 houses were damaged in Landi Arbab in the outskirts of the city.

He said the authorities had setup a flood warning centre to help with disaster management.

The Met office has predicted that more rains will follow in the coming days, offering little reassurance to people who have already been rendered homeless by downpours across the country. (Additional reporting from agencies)

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2010.

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