Caught unprepared: Chitral flash floods leave two dead, villages damaged

Residents face severe shortage of potable water, food; bridges, roads washed away


Muhkamuddin July 16, 2015
Residents face severe shortage of potable water, food; bridges, roads washed away. PHOTO: ONLINE

CHITRAL:


A woman and a five-year-old girl drowned while over 30 shops and dozens of bridges were washed away when heavy rain followed by flash floods hit various parts of Chitral district early Thursday.


The woman, who was identified as the wife of Qurbanuddin and the girl whose name could not be ascertained were washed away by the gushing waters of a flood stream in Broz Gol area. The rain started at Sehri and lashed the district for half-an-hour, causing a powerful flash flood.

Divers recovered the body of the woman while the remains of the girl had not been found till the filing of this report.

Steady devastation

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), around 100 villages have been affected, including those in Bumboret, Ayun, Birir, Shali, Shughur, Khairabad, Milp and Dorosh.

The meteorological department said rain lashed mountainous areas, causing floods in low-lying parts of the district. The floods washed away roads within the district, including Peshawar-Chitral Road near Broz Gol area. Without this road, there is no land route connecting Chitral city to the rest of Malakand Agency.

“Water level in Chitral River rose to an unprecedented level, forcing residents to shift to safer places,” a local, Abdur Rahman, told The Express Tribune.

The power supply was disconnected after Inji Grid Station and Ayun Hydel Power Station were affected, plunging most parts of the district in darkness.

Kalash valleys

Bumboret Valley in Kalash was the most affected, where numerous houses were partially damaged by flash floods and bridges were washed away.

Bumboret ASI Hayatullah said apart from damaging roads, 11 houses in Shekhanda locality and two houses in Karakar were also damaged.  “Most of the houses swept away were built right on the edge of streams,” said Hayatullah. He said residents could not shift their household items and valuables to safer places in time. Hence, they were swept away in the flood water.

“Flash floods also affected houses, shops and roads in Birir Valley, forcing the residents to shift their cattle and important possessions to higher altitudes,” said Muhammad Ali, a resident.

Large-scale impact

Orghoch, Darosh Ayun and Shughur were also badly hit. Water also accumulated in a Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) motel, causing partial damage. A broken bridge in Khairabad village left its residents stranded as the village is located on a side of the river, with no connecting road or passage to Chitral city. A mosque at Shali was also swept away.

The flood waters also affected WAPDA House, Chitral.

Basic relief

Both the rain and flash floods have caused a pressing shortage of potable water and food, leaving residents badly affected.

District Disaster Management Authority relief in charge Rashid Ahmad said, “A list of affected families in Bumboret has been prepared and relief activities have begun.”

The PDMA director general instructed the Chitral DC to immediately start relief activities; including the provision of food and clean drinking water to residents.

In June 2013, flash floods washed away most of the district’s connecting bridges, leaving residents stranded. Both—Thursday’s and 2013’s floods—hark back to the devastation caused in 2010.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2015.

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