LAHORE: More than 40 people have been killed as a result of heavy monsoon rains across Pakistan, officials said on Thursday.
Most of the deaths were caused by roof collapses in buildings in Punjab, with 13 people killed in the provincial capital Lahore.
Meanwhile, eight lives have been claimed in various areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Authorities warned more intense rainfall and flash floods could be imminent.
“At least 25 people have been killed in different incidents of roof collapses in Punjab province during the last 24 hours,” Jam Sajjad, a spokesman for rescue services told AFP.
He said the dead included women and children, and 28 people had been injured.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has announced Rs0.5 million for each of the deceased and Rs0.1 million for each of the injured.
Electricity and transport systems in the city have also been badly affected because of the rain. Around 170 millimeters of rain has already been recorded in Lahore.
Rizwan Naseer, the director general of rescue services in Punjab confirmed the toll and said the injured were being moved to hospitals.
“We have been removing the debris to search for survivors and the injured,” Naseer said, adding that the toll was likely to rise as more information came in from around the province.
In Azad Kashmir, eight people were killed, disaster management agency chairman Akram Sohail told AFP.
He said there had been some flash flooding in the Himalayan territory and warned that the rivers Jhelum and Neelum were close to overflowing in some places.
The eight victims included three soldier, who died in a mudslide near the de facto border with India.
According to an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release, three soldiers, including an officer, were killed and three others were injured Thursday night due to a mudslide in Kailer Sector near Bagh on the Line of Control (LoC).
The police recovered the bodies of the army men from the rubble and identified them as officer, Captain Fazl, Sulaiman and Ghulam Mohideen.
In the same area, a civilian was swept away by currents of the flooding stream. The land links of district Havayli remained cut off from the rest of the country while the main streams of the district flow above the danger mark.
A 9th grade female student from Bagh and a 4th grade student Haris were also swept away. No bodies were recovered till the filing of this report.
In district Kotli, a 70-year-old woman was killed as the roof of her house collapsed on Thursday morning.
According to the police, Shahad Begum in village Tayain Khoiratta Kotli, was buried under the rubble when the roof of her house collapsed due to heavy rains, killing her on the spot.
Meanwhile, in village Kalwaal Draaiyan district Bhimber a man lost his life as the roof of his house collapsed on Thursday night.
Water levels in River Jehlum, Neelum and Kunhar have been gradually increasing for the past 24 hours.
A flood warning has not been issued in the area. However, the district administrations of Muzaffarabad, Neelum and Hattian Balla have alerted residents living close to the rivers.
The meteorological office warned that more heavy rain and thunderstorms were expected in Punjab and the north of the country in the coming 72 hours and could cause flooding in major rivers.
Pakistan has suffered deadly monsoon floods for at least the last four years — in 2013, 178 people were killed and around 1.5 million affected — by flooding around the country.
The government has been criticised for not doing more to mitigate against the dangers posed by seasonal rains washing away homes and farmland.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued an “exceptionally high flood level warning” as heavy rains are expected in rivers of Punjab, including Ravi, Chenab, Jhelum and Sutlej along with their associated tributaries during the next 48 hours, Radio Pakistan reported.
According to the NDMA, an exceptionally high flood level is also expected at Marala and its downstream areas on Thursday night.
The report added that the current weather system had a potential of heavy rainfall in northeast Punjab, including the cities of Gujranwala, Lahore, Rawalpindi divisions and Kashmir and adjoining areas during the next 24 to 36 hours. This may cause flood situation in rivers of Punjab and its tributaries.
According to the flood report available with the Flood Warning Center in Lahore on Thursday evening, the Chenab River is flowing in a high flood with an inflow of 285,116 cusecs and outflow of 280,116 cusecs of water.
The water level at this point is increasing. This river is flowing in a medium flood at Khanki and Qadirabad while the water level is increasing at both these points.
The Jhelum River is flowing in a very high flood with an inflow of 42,040 and outflow of 14,240 cusecs of water at Mangla, where the water level is increasing.
Meanwhile, the Flood Warning Center has forecast that the Chenab River at Marala is likely to attain a high to very high flood level by 10am on Friday, at Khanki between 2am and 10pm on Friday and at Qadirabad from 8am tomorrow to 4am on Saturday.
All the concerned departments, districts and people have been warned to take necessary precautionary measures so as to avoid any possible losses of the human lives, cattle or properties.
Army dispatches troops for relief efforts
According to Inter Services Public Relations, army troops have been dispatched to the flood affected areas for relief duties, Express News reported.
Troops have been sent to Sialkot, Narowal, Wazirabad, Headmarala and Jalalpur Jattan to take part in flood relief activities.
ISPR further said the troops in Shahdara have also been put on alert.
Amid fear of floods, Army has been called in to Rawalpindi and divers of 111 Brigade along with rescues boats have reached slum areas.