ISLAMABAD: The current spell of monsoon rains has claimed at least 77 lives in the country so far, revealed Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, Rehman said that out of the total, 39 rain-related fatalities were reported from Balochistan alone — the most from any province.
The climate change minister termed the deaths a “national tragedy” as hundreds of homes have been destroyed and rescue operations in remote areas are being hampered due to heavy rains.
She added that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has prepared a national monsoon contingency plan, but also called on people to stay alert to prevent further damage.
“We need a comprehensive plan to avert these [deaths and devastation] as all of this destruction is taking place due to climate change,” the federal minister said.
The rains have not stopped and will continue till July 8, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), which has also warned of water logging in low-lying areas.
Met Office forecasts more rains
Although it did not rain heavily in Karachi till almost the end of Wednesday afternoon, the metropolis is expected to receive 40-50mm of rain under the influence of a strong weather system that has developed over the sea.
The meteorological department said that low air pressure is present in the south of Sindh which is getting moisture from the North Arabian Sea.
It added that intermittent moderate rain-thunderstorms — isolated heavy falls — were expected in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Thatta, Hyderabad, and Tando Allayar till July 8.
The department also forecast rains till the same date in Tando Muhammad Khan, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Nawabshah, Dadu, Noshero Feroz, Qambar Shahdadkot, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Sukkur districts, and Karachi.
“These rains may cause water logging in low-lying areas in Karachi Division, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Qambar Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Larkana, Jacobabad and Sukkur Districts,” the meteorological department said.
Following the deaths of dozens of people, the Balochistan government declared Quetta a disaster-struck area and imposed a state of emergency in the provincial capital.
Due to torrential rains, the rivers and canals of the province overflowed. As of Wednesday morning, more than 20 people were injured when the walls and roofs of dozens of houses collapsed and people drowned as well due to flash floods.
According to the Balochistan Disaster Management Authority, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Pishin and Harnai districts have been the most affected because of the rains, whereas floods have also been reported in Muslim Bagh, Qamaruddin, and Khushnoob.
There were flash floods overnight in several villages of Khushnoob, and a link bridge was swept away, making it difficult for rescue workers to reach the affected people.
According to the assistant commissioner, the wards and emergency rooms of Muslim Bagh Civil Hospital were flooded, while rain in the hilly areas of Muslim Bagh damaged more than 100 houses.
Moreover, the link roads of Kan Mehtarzai, Loi Band, and Ragha Sultanzai were washed away in the floods.
The Chaman administration has said that more than 70 houses were affected by the floods in Badizai and Torkhel areas, while the Harnai-Punjab-Loralai Highway has been closed for traffic due to torrential rains.
According to Levies officials, part of the Valin Dam in the Afghan border area of Qamaruddin broke, causing water to enter low-lying areas and flood 11 homes. The affectees have been shifted to safer places.
The Levies officials said most of the access roads to remote areas of Qila Saifullah, Zhob, and Harnai have been affected and rescue operations hampered in several areas.