Four persons, including a woman, were killed in rain-related incidents, while six persons including two minors were injured due a roof collapse after heavy downpour lashed the twin cities on Tuesday. The water level in Nullah Leh reached dangerous levels which heightened the danger of flash floods and created panic among residents.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Waqas Ahmad, a Rescue 1122 official, said the body of a 20-year-old man who drowned in Nullah Leh near Dhoke Dalal was retrieved by rescue divers near Ratta Amral Bridge. However Rogla Khan, 20, is still missing. A man and his two children were injured in Pirwadhai when the roof of their house collapsed, while three persons were injured in a similar incident in Fauji Colony. According to the Islamabad Police, Sardar Ali Khan, 40, drowned in Soan near Jindalla and a 35-year-old woman drowned in a nullah near Kachnar Park.
According to the Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD), during the last 24 hours, 202 millimetres (mm) of rain was recorded in Saidpur, 109mm in Zero Point, 91mm in Golra, while Shamsabad received 103mm and Chaklala 67mm. PMD Director-General Arif Mahmood said heavy rains and thunderstorms are expected in 36 to 48 hours in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but their intensity will be slightly lower.
Bilal Rana, sub-divisional officer said eight gates of Rawal Dam spillways were opened at around 7am on Tuesday morning to release surplus water. The water level reached 36,000 acre feet while the storage capacity is 37,000 acre feet. After opening the spillways the water level was brought down to 1,746 acre feet. Spillways of Khanpur Dam were also opened.
The rain started late on Monday night at around 12:30pm. Major arteries such as Kashmir Highway, Margalla Road, Embassy Road, Islamabad Highway, Ninth Avenue and Khayaban-e-Suhrawardy were flooded by rainwater which resulted in traffic jams. At some points, trees fell and blocked the roads.
Ghazala Farid, who works for an international donor agency in Diplomatic Enclave, said it took her an hour to reach her office. “My car got stuck near Dhokri Chowk, the water gushed in up to my knees but I didn’t see any police official on duty to help me,” she said.
In Rawalpindi, the army, Civil Defence and Rescue 1122 teams were deputed in areas vulnerable to flash floods after an emergency was declared owing to rising water levels which crossed 20 feet near Gawalmandi and 22 feet at Katarian. Families started shifting to safer places after the siren went off and announcements over loudspeakers warned people to remain alert.
Rainwater flooded low-lying areas of the city, forcing the people either to vacate their houses or shift to the second floor in Ferozpur, Arya Mohalla, Teli Mohalla, Kirtarpura, Sadiqabad, Javed Colony, Muslim Colony and Chua Saidan Shah.
“My children were ready to go to school but when informed about the flash flood in Nullah Leh, I asked them to change out of their uniforms and help me shift things from the basement,” said Nadia, a resident of Satellite Town, Block E whose house is adjacent to Nullah Leh. “Living near the nullah is very difficult during the monsoon as we are on our toes every moment and cannot even sleep at night.”
Rescue officials said they were monitoring the situation and dozens of divers have been deputed at vulnerable localities.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2013.