Two children died when the roof of a house collapsed in Rawalpindi on Saturday, while two more are believed to be dead after they were swept away by an overflowing nullah.
Aurangzeb, 2, and Naseema, 7, died under the debris of their single-room mud house in Gulraiz Colony Gate II, said Rescue 1122 officials. When Yahya Gul’s house collapsed, the two children got caught under the falling roof, while their father, mother and two brothers managed to save themselves.
In the second incident, two sisters were swept away by an overflowing nullah in Rawalpindi’s suburbs. Their father, a baker, said Mariam, 8, and Gul, 3, were swept away by water in Jarahi Nullah while they were asleep.
Zahir Shah said the roof of his mud house on the banks of Jarahi Nullah near Adiala Road caved in. “I lost consciousness after seeing the water swallowing my two daughters. My wife alerted the neighbours who started searching for the girls, but the water flow made rescue impossible in the absence of professional rescuers.”
The residents made several calls to Rescue 1122, but rescue workers did not arrive. When contacted, rescue officials said they found it difficult to reach the spot in the evening.
Met office Director General (retd) Arif Mehmood said 80 millimetres of rain was recorded in Rawalpindi, while 70mm of rain was recorded in Islamabad. Rains will continue for the next 24 hours in the twin cities, Murree and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
After the downpour, rainwater collected in low-lying areas, causing problems for the residents. The worst situation was witnessed in Dhoke Syedan, where rainwater entered houses in the absence of a proper sewerage system. Muhammad Nadeem said water damaged household items in 10 houses as the residents were sleeping. “Despite repeated calls, Rawalpindi Cantonment Board did nor respond and we had to carry out rescue efforts on our own.”
Water also entered houses in Nadeem Colony, Javaid Colony, Dhoke Khabba and Dhoke Chiragh Din.
The biggest threat during monsoon, Nullah Leh, did not swell up to alarming levels.
Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) Assistant Director Information Umer Farooq said Leh flowed at 10 feet in the city at 5am and over 13 feet at New Katarian, while 15 feet is alarming. By 4pm on Saturday, the water had receded to five feet.
Residents should call the agency’s staff to pump out water in low-lying areas, he added.
He said the water level in Rawal Dam has risen to 1316 feet, while the dead level is 1322 feet.
No respite for slum dwellers
The rain lowered humidity and temperatures in the city to bearable levels but also brought with it troubles for people living in katchi abadis. Water from the rain flooded homes in a number of slums across Islamabad.
“Every monsoon my family is affected due to the rain and a leaky roof,” said Boota Masih, residing in a slum in G-7. “Had the Capital Development Authority (CDA) levelled the paths outside, it would have controlled the rainwater entering our houses and plastic sheets would have covered our roofs,” Boota said.
Maryam Bibi, who lives in a slum in G-8, said, “For the last 30 years, I have been residing in this colony with my family and every monsoon my whole life is disrupted and it takes months to resettle.”
CDA Spokesperson Ramzan Sajid said they were unaware of the situation. “Maximum relief will be given to residents in registered slums if they are facing a serious emergency,’’ he added.
There are six registered katchi abadis in Islamabad, while over a dozen slums are illegal.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.