At least 10 people died, and several others were injured, in separate but rain related incidents in the city.
Four-year-old Afzal and his father, Mohammad Altaf, were injured when a wall of their house fell. The injured were taken to a hospital where Afzal succumbed to his injuries.
Two siblings, 26-year-old Sana and 20-year-old Gohar, were also trapped under the collapsed roof of their house in Saeedabad. The family brought the bodies to the Civil hospital where they were pronounced dead by the doctors.
Separately, in Saeedabad's Dawood Goth, 12-year-old Muzamil died when the roof of his house collapsed on top of him.
Two young men, Tauqeer and Mohsin, were electrocuted in an eatery shop located in Buffer Zone's Sector-15, within the limits of the Taimuria police station. SHO Taimuria Qalandar Bukhsh said that the deceased were workers of the eatery and were working when they were electrocuted.
Thirty-year-old Mehmood was electrocuted in Bohra Peer, within the limits of the Eidgah Police Station. His body was taken to the Civil hospital.
Twenty-seven-year-old Mohammad Usman was electrocuted in his house in Machar Colony, within the limits of Docks Police Station.
Thirty-year-old Samiullah, resident of Bahar Colony in Lyari, also died of electrocution. A 50-year-old factory watchman in SITE town, Zareen, died after a wall of the factory collapsed on top of him. His body was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
A passer-by was electrocuted due to broken power cables on Chamra Chowrangi, within the limits of the Korangi Industrial Area police. He was identified as 29-year-old Bashir, a resident of Mehran Town, Korangi.
Rain hits the city
It was at around 3am that the first boom echoed through the city, waking up its residents. Another followed soon after. As people feared the worst, a terrorist attack, it turned out to be a much more welcome scenario; thunder, followed by the first shower of the monsoon season.
However, the rain did come at a cost as the city plunged into darkness, the nullahs started to overflow, low-lying streets and roads were flooded, in addition to the ten lives that were lost in rain-related incidents.
City unable to cope with rain
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) administrator Rauf Akhtar Farooqui tried to absolve himself and the city administration of the responsibility by claiming that they were aware of the effects of heavy rain but could do nothing about it. "Most of the city's nullahs are encroached upon and the others are filled with garbage. There is a need to clean them completely," he said. "We already warned the people that a thunderstorm spells disaster for the city."
However, in North Nazimabad, none of the storm-water drains are encroached upon but the roads were still flooded as the drains have been clogged by garbage that the administration has failed to remove.
Farooqui claimed that the KMC was not idle in its preparation for the rainy season. "The city administration was working day and night and we assure people that there will be no repeat of Saadi Town," he said. "However, we cannot prevent water accumulating in small puddles."
While the rain did not last for long, it did leave behind a stark warning about the lack of drainage preparation in the city as in only half an hour, many of the city's low-lying areas were inundated. "The Urdu Bazaar nullah overflowed and the rain threatened to submerge the entire Urdu Bazaar," said Farid Memon, a resident of Burnes Road.
Syed Sultan Khalil, who owns a shop in Urdu Bazaar, claimed that the entire area was flooded. "Not only in Urdu Bazaar, but Burnes Road, Arts Council and the high court are also inundated," he said. "If half an hour can cause so much damage then I shudder to think what future rains will do to this area."
Journalist Muhammad Ataullah, a resident of Metroville, claimed that the entire area was flooded and no city administration personnel arrived to help the residents until late in the afternoon.
Despite the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) constructing drainage nullahs to prevent waterlogging, the commercial areas in Defence were also flooded. "In Badar Commercial, a lot of rainwater has accumulated on the roads, but the situation in the rest of Defence is much better," said a DHA resident. "However, this was only half an hour of rain so you cannot be sure that Defence's drainage system will hold up against heavier rain."
Crisis: Rain causes water shortage
According to the Karachi Water Sewerage Board spokesperson, an electricity poll near the Gharo pumping station collapsed, leading to a power outage at the pumping station.
“The K-Electric staff is yet to restore electricity to the Gharo pumping station and the pumping station was unable to supply water to the city,” he said.
The spokesperson said that Karachi will face a shortage of 90 million gallons of water and added that the Dhabiji pumping station was also subjected to load-shedding today, which further worsened the water crisis.
Lights out: The dark ages
Flooded roads and streets were not the only problem that the residents faced due to the rain. Due to the heavy rainfall, multiple K-Electric grid stations shut down, while dozens of feeders tripped; leading to complete blackouts in various parts of the city. In some areas of the city, there was no electricity for more than 12 hours.
However, the K-Electric spokesperson claimed that not all power outages were due to the tripping feeders. “Only 70 feeders tripped due to the rain,” he said. “There were blackouts in other areas as kunday [illegal power connections] were soaked with water.”
The spokesperson added that because of illegal connections, high voltages run through the poll-mounted transformers (PMT), causing them to break down. “Our team is working in different areas to try and restore electricity and has already succeeded in doing so in a few places, while our emergency staff is also ready,” he claimed. “People should avoid kunday during the rainy season as they run the risk of getting electrocuted and their illegal connections damage the PMTs.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2014.