CHITRAL/ MUZAFFARABAD/ PESHAWAR:
Flash floods triggered by heavy rains claimed at least 19 lives and injured another 42 people across the country on Friday, as officials warned residents the worst still lay ahead.
Parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were worst affected by the torrential rains, with as many as 13 reported dead and 34 injured in separate incidents. Six fatalities were reported in Punjab.
Extensive property damage was also reported from the country’s northern regions and residents in many areas were forced to leave their homes as rainwater inundated their houses.
Even more mass displacement is expected, as the water level continues to rise. Nearly 50,000 cusecs of water flowed into Warsak Dam on Friday, increasing its water level. Officials fear the flooding may reach Nowshera today (Saturday).
According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), seven districts of K-P, including Nowshera, Swat, Peshawar and Kohistan, are sensitive. Talking to The Express Tribune, PDMA Director-General Atifur Rehman said tents, water and food supplies have been sent to these areas.
He added, however, that “the situation is something to worry about.”
As of now, Chitral district appeared to be the worst hit. Floods have claimed the lives of five people since Thursday morning, as rainwater washed away dozens of houses and destroyed two bridges connecting the Kalash valley to Upper Chitral. A minor girl was also reported injured in the district.
Talking to reporters while visiting the affected areas, Chitral deputy commissioner Shoaib Jadoon said rains and flash floods destroyed at least 60 houses in the district. Unofficially, however, the figure was as high as 120. At least 45 of these houses belonged to the Bamboret valley. Communications and water and electricity supply systems in the entire district were severely disrupted as well.
Jadoon added that the district administration has launched rescue efforts and moved flood victims to safer ground in Chitral city.
Four people were killed in Bagh, AJK, when their vehicle was swept off the road by flash floods. Another man reportedly drowned in Bagh’s Ghaniabad area. Seventeen more people were also reported injured across AJK. The heavy downpour also caused millions of rupees worth of property damage in the region, destroying commercial and residential buildings as well as crops.
A boy and his mother were killed in Bajaur Agency, as the roof of their house collapsed due to the heavy downpour. In a similar incident, a man was killed and his father critically injured in Peshawar district when the roof of the room they were in collapsed. Two children were killed in Timergara when a landslide struck their house. Rainfall also demolished the wall of a mosque in Karak city, injuring five worshippers.
At least eight houses in Khyber Agency were completely washed away by flash floods, while 17 others were reported to be partially damaged. According to Jamrud political administration official Asmatullah Wazir, 15 people were injured after the roofs of their houses caved in. Another seven tribesmen from the area were injured in separate rain-related incidents.
Floods and landslides hit villages and valleys in Gilgit-Baltistan, damaging standing crops, water channels and orchards. The floods also damaged part of the Chilas-Babusar road, besides washing away some timber.
Torrential rains caused low-level floods in Swat as well, while a massive torrent of rainwater flowing towards Gogdara village blocked the main GT Road. Low-level flooding was also reported in the Elum stream, prompting people living by its banks to evacuate their houses.
PM takes notice, army alerted
Taking notice of the extensive damages, especially in K-P, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the National Disaster Management Authority to coordinate relief efforts with the province’s government immediately.
Meanwhile, the army, Frontier Corps and Levies have been put on high alert to provide immediate aid if the situation worsens.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2013.