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Torrential rains cripple Karachi, over 50 killed

14 September, 2011

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KARACHI: Torrential rains and floods wreaked havoc in Sindh, including Karachi, during the last 24 hours, killing over 50 people in separate incidents till our going to press late on Tuesday night.

At least five people lost their lives as the metropolis received 140 millimetres of monsoon rain since Monday evening causing a virtual civic catastrophe in the city. A man was killed while four others sustained injuries due to the collapse of a house in the Kati Pahari area of Orangi Town. The body and the injured were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

Two people were killed as they came under the debris of a wall in the Wahid Colony area of North Nazimabad, police said. The bodies were transported by Edhi ambulance to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

According to media reports, two people died of electrocution in the Burns Road area near Akhbar Market. Routine life came to a standstill as several localities were virtually submerged by the rainwater.

A number of business centres, banks, public and private offices and educational institutions in the city could not function at all as people could not reach their workplaces due to the absence of public transport.

Apart from people working for emergency and essential services, it was a virtual public holiday for the rest of Karachiites. A few could enjoy the rainfall at their homes while a majority of them suffered prolonged breakdowns of electricity as the system of the Karachi Electric Supply Company collapsed in a majority of areas.

The main business district in the southern part of the metropolis presented a look of a natural calamity as all its roads and streets could not be accessed due to the rainwater mixed with overflowing sewage.

Throughout the day, news channels kept on airing updates about the situation on the roads, storm water drains and low-lying areas in the city as spells of rain continued intermittently throughout the day.

The major event of the day, the Supreme Court's hearing of a suo moto case of target killings in the city, was also marred by heavy rains after a flood-like situation emerged in the area around the SC's Registry in Karachi.

At sunset, the only silver lining for the catastrophe-hit people of Karachi was that intermittent spells of rain stopped in most parts of the city. Although spells of light rain continued throughout Monday night, a spell of rain on Tuesday morning badly affected the sewerage and drainage systems of the city. Afterwards, spells of drizzle and light showers continued, causing problems for civic agencies to drain out the accumulated rainwater.

Although the Meteorological Department did not issue any fresh weather advisory or warning for the lower Sindh region, its last advisory on Monday said that parts of southern Sindh and eastern Balochistan could receive heavy rains in the coming three days under the influence of a strong monsoonal weather system from the Rajasthan side.

The Met officials, however, said on Tuesday that intermittent spells of rain could continue in the city for another day and afterwards there would be clearing of the weather situation as the influence of the existing weather system would subside and there would be no more incoming monsoon system from the central Indian side.

The entire drainage and sewerage systems of the city — whether under the control of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board or other land controlling authorities — were virtually in a shambles and failed to drain out the rainwater from a number of major roads, streets and low-lying areas.

A maximum 140mm of rain till 5pm on Tuesday was recorded at the Meteorological Department's observatory at the PAF Base Faisal while this measurement was followed by 131mm of rain recorded since Monday at PAF Base Masroor.

In Saddar, 114mm of rain was recorded, 111mm of rain was recorded in Nazimabad, 108mm in North Karachi, 108mm on University Road, 100mm in Landhi, and 89mm rain in North Karachi. On Tuesday alone, the Karachi Airport received 40mm of rain while the old area of the airport received 47.5mm of rain.

The Met Office has issued the forecast of cloudy weather with chances of rain/thundershowers with moderate to heavy rain fall in the city on Wednesday (today) when the maximum temperature could range between 28 degrees Centigrade and 30 degrees Centigrade. On Tuesday, the Met Office recorded the minimum 23.5 degrees Centigrade and 26.8 degrees Centigrade as the maximum mercury level with 100 percent humidity.

Meanwhile, four patients who had been under treatment at the Neurosurgery Department of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) died on Tuesday after prolonged power outage at the hospital forced the ventilators they were on to shut down, hospital sources said.

The deceased were identified as Jaffer, Noman, Haji Muhammad and Saquib. The Sindh health secretary, Rizwan Ahmed, while talking to our sources, confirmed that four people had died due to power breakdown at the JPMC after the generator was not used to power the ventilators. He termed it an extremely ìtragic incidentî caused by sheer negligence of the JPMC administration. All educational institutions in Sindh, including Karachi, will remain closed on Wednesday (today), according to an announcement of the Sindh government.

Our Sukkur correspondent adds: Heavy rains in Khairpur, Naushahro Feroze, Nara, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Dado, Nawabshah and its adjoining areas inundated more than hundred villages and claimed over 40 lives here on Tuesday. An evacuation warning to the residents of Highorino has been issued. It has been decided to shift the rain-hit people to Karachi and Hyderabad. The district management authorities completely failed to help in the rescue and relief of the rain victims.

Reports said that the spell of torrential monsoon rains after a pause of few hours resumed from last night to the filling of this report and played havoc with the lives of people. They said that the heavy downpour also suspended the rescue and relief operation. The reports said that saline Nallahs over topped and water gushed towards hundreds of villages, also submerging thousands of acres of the seasonal crops.

In various incidents of house collapse, electrocution, drowning, more over 38 people, including children and women, were killed. In Housri, eight people were killed when their house collapsed. In Bhit Shah, three children died due to the collapse of the roof of their house.

Meanwhile, two women drowned in rainwater in Tando Bagho, while four bodies were recovered from a pond of rainwater. In Moro, two women and in Majhand, three including two women were killed in a house collapse incidents.

In Thatta, three more people including two women became victims of the rainwater. In Golarchi, six people were killed in separate incidents house collapse. In Sanghar, two brothers were killed due to collapse of a wall. Reports said that Jungshahy-Thatta bridge damaged which suspended the inland communication of the people of both towns. Mass migration from the rain-affected areas continued.

The Hyderabad-Thatta road has been closed for traffic. The Pakistan Army and Navy were busy in relief and rescue operations however that too was insufficient.

Our Naushahro Feroze correspondent adds: Rains here started on Monday morning and continued throughout the day, adding to the plight of the people already facing severe difficulties in the wake of relentless rains.

More than 30 villages came under water in various areas of the district while three women lost their lives in separate rain-related incidents. The rains and floods have caused mass devastation in the district and it effects are expected to last as health experts fear the spread of waterborne diseases on a large scale.

Meanwhile, unknown people made two cuts in the Phull-Padidan link road at two points after the increase of rainwater in the area of Phull union council

Our Thatta correspondent adds: Heavy rains that lashed Thatta on Monday afternoon continued intermittently for the entire night and on Tuesday. The Thatta city is inundated to knee-deep water mixed with sewerage due to failure of a proper drainage system. All roads and street were inaccessible and citizens experienced great difficulties to reach their homes. The main Shahi Bazaar was also inundated to knee-deep water. All shanty towns became inundated up to three to four feet water. Power failure added to the miseries of the people.

Rain was also reported from other parts of the district including coastal areas. Meanwhile, the National Highway between Thatta and Hyderabad was also submerged and traffic was suspended. Several vehicles were stranded in the rain besides the highway. The district administration has decided to give cuts in the KB Feeder Upper near Onghar town so as to drain the rain water in it and to save the National Highway and restore traffic.

Our Hyderabad correspondent adds: Heavy downpours caused a colossal loss as rainwater entered houses and shops and destroyed goods inside worth millions of rupees throughout the three Talukas of the district. Moreover, three men died from electrocution and 27 others were injured in rain related incidents here.

Three out of the four Talukas in the Hyderabad district were the most affected areas, where residents spent their entire night without sleep as they were busy saving their goods from rainwater. After passing many hours, rainwater from 3-4 feet was standing in Latifabad and low-lying areas of Qasimabad and Hyderabad Rural, while many localities of Hyderabad City were deprived of power supply from 15 to 20 hours.

The Met office recorded rains of 153 mm on Tuesday in Hyderabad. The office also said that the renewed spell of the monsoon rains would last till Wednesday night.

Moreover, three men, including Abdul Shakoor, Abdul Siddique and unknown person, were electrocuted in different localities in the district. 27 people were injured in various incidents of collapse of roof and walls of house in certain areas.

Meanwhile, residents of Latifabad No 2 and Goath Mohabbat Machi staged protest demonstrations against the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) separately at Auto Bhan Road Latifabad as officials of the Wasa failed completely to drain out the accumulated rainwater from their respective localities after the passage of 15 hours.

APP adds: The team leader of the United Nations' Emergency Flood Response Dr Salman Safdar has informed that the UN had mobilised 4,000 volunteers from its humanitarian affairs sections for rescue and relief work in Sindh, specially in Badin.

Safdar said the UN would stand with Pakistani people in their time of need. "We will provide food and shelter till their rehabilitation," he said. He said that the UN has committed to Pakistan government to provide help in health, food, shelter and water and sanitation.

District Government Badin has demanded of the UN and the government to provide Rs 400 million for relief and rescue operations, 200,000 tents, ration bags for 200,000 families for three months, 500 decanting pumps for draining stagnant water from the cities, villages, 150 boats, mechanised, supply of drinking water in canals and ASV/ARV medical cover.

The focal person for relief and rescue Agha Wasif demanded early help to save human lives. Meanwhile, EDO Finance and Planning Mohammad Saleem Rajput briefed the NGOs and the international community representatives for extending help. He asked the NGOs to register with the NDMA.

Wing Commander Thar Ranger, Lieutenant Colonel Shahid Rasool and sector Commander Hyderabad Col Saeed Ahmed visited the rain affected areas of Badin, Kadhan, Khoski, Shadi Large and Shaheed Fazil Raho. They inspected relief and rescue work carried out by Rangers.

Also, Sindh Minister for Livestock Abid Hussain Jatoi on Tuesday said that 12,299 cattle-heads have died and millions of displaced by the prevailing monsoon rains. He said that such a large scale displacement of animals has not occurred in the last 100 years.

Talking to official media here, the Livestock minister said that his department had prepared a contingency plan to meet the situation, under which as many as 269 veterinary relief camps and 45 mobile veterinary relief camps had been set up since August 12 providing treatment to the animals in 23 rain-affected districts. He said that some 1,554,671 animals had been provided treatment in 23 districts till September 11.


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