At least 58 people, including women and children, were killed, and hundreds injured, in rain-related incidents throughout upper Sindh over the past 24 hours. An emergency has been declared in Jacobabad and Kandhkot, where the army has been called in to provide relief.
Almost all cities and towns are submerged in a mixture of rain and sewage, while the drainage system has collapsed. Much of the region experienced blackouts for over 30 hours till the filing of this report.
According to the Met office, Sukkur, Rohri and other nearby areas received 178 mm of rain till Monday morning, while 441 mm of rain has been recorded in Jacobabad – the highest in a century. Reports from different parts of upper Sindh reveal that hundreds of katcha houses have collapsed in different areas, due to which at least 58 people have been killed while hundreds are reportedly injured.
The most affected area is Kandhkot, the district headquarters of Kashmore, where 24 persons have been killed. Some 15 people were killed in Shikarpur, two in Khairpur, five in Sukkur, five in Ghotki and other areas and four in Jacobabad. Three people have died in Larkana, while 5,000 houses were damaged in Shikarpur. In Lakhi Ghulam Shah, boats are being used for transport due to the high level of flooding.
Archaeological site at risk
Meanwhile, the archaeological site of Moen Jo Daro is also under threat, as recent rainfall has partially damaged its stupa, while rainwater has been accumulating in different areas of the historical site, including the Great Bath.
Culture Department Additional Secretary Ashfaq Mussavi said that although they have access to generators and heavy machinery, they’re avoiding their use as they could damage the walls of the site. He added that more than 30 officials are draining out the water to prevent further damage.
Damage to agriculture
The devastating rains have also caused extensive damage to the agriculture sector throughout upper Sindh. Standing crops in Jacobabad, Kashmore, Kandhkot, Shikarpur, Larkana and other areas which comprise the rice cultivating belt have been destroyed. The crisis has been exacerbated since the crops were grown unseasonally late – farmers had earlier halted cultivation in protest over an acute shortage of water. In Sukkur, Khairpur and Ghotki districts, standing crops of paddy, cotton and sugarcane have been destroyed by the rains.
In the wake of devastating rains throughout upper Sindh, all the canals of the Guddu and Sukkur barrages have been shut to prevent breaches.
While the casualties in lower Sindh remained low, the damage to infrastructure was substantial. Torrential rain continued in Badin district on Monday, damaging mud houses and ravaging crops on thousands of acres, creating panic near to the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD). According to official reports, Badin received 51 mm of rain. Deputy Commissioner Kazim Hussain Jatoi said that the LBOD was being monitored, adding that no relief camp had been established so far.
Jatoi said the main crops affected were cotton, rice, chillies and vegetables. Mithan Mallah, the district president of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, alleged that the government did not inform fishermen about heavy rains in the region. “We rescued 250 fishermen and around 150 are still at the sea,” he told the Daily Sindh Express.
An eight-year-old boy Kazim Ali Shah died when the wall of his house collapsed in Allah Bachayo Bhatti village late Sunday night.
Authorities claim that dozens of machines have been fixed on the banks of the LBOD but only one pumping machine was seen when the Daily Sindh Express visited the drain on Monday.
Extensive damage was also reported in Naukot and Umerkot.
On the directives of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, the Provincial Minister for Rehabilitation Haji Muzaffar Ali Shujra, along with Secretary Rehabilitation/Director General of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, called an emergency meeting on Monday at the PDMA office. Shujra called on all affected district administrations to declare a rain emergency in their districts and mobilise all the available resources to provide relief to the victims.
The Sindh CM also cancelled leave grants for commissioners, deputy commissioners, revenue officers and officials, doctors and staff of hospitals and other essential services.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HAMEED SOOMRO IN BADIN, IMAM DINO RANTO IN SAJAWAL, GM WALHARI IN UMERKOT AND SAGAR LASHARI IN NAUKOT
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2012.