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Wednesday June 19, 2024

Torrential rain claims 13 lives in Punjab, KP

Lahore receives highest rain in 30 years; authorities step up efforts to drain rainwater from streets

By Ali Raza & Azam Butt & Ummay Farwa
July 06, 2023
Heavy rainfall inundates a road in Lahore, on July 5, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Twitter/@AhmadWaleed
Heavy rainfall inundates a road in Lahore, on July 5, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Twitter/@AhmadWaleed

LAHORE: Heavy showers continuing for long hours on Wednesday claimed seven lives in Lahore, and three each in Gujranwala and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) districts in different rain-related incidents.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said the Lahore city received over 290mm of rain in two spells within a span of 10 hours, breaking a 30-year-old record in the provincial capital.

“Three people were electrocuted, two died after roofs collapsed, and a child drowned in rainwater,” Punjab Interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi told journalists at Lakshmi Chowk on Wednesday. In an update on his official Twitter handle, he said the rain death toll had risen to seven.

The rain badly hit the city, including residential and commercial localities, graveyards and public parks, which were still inundated with rainwater, causing inconvenience to people and blocking traffic at major crossings across the city.

The first rain spell, which started at around 4am continued till 9am and the second started at 9:20am and the downpour continued till 1:35pm, according to the Monsoon Control Room, WASA.

The heavy rain in both spells paralysed large parts of the city as all the major roads and connecting streets were waterlogged, making commuting impossible. Many vehicles broke down on the roads due to knee-deep water. Rainwater entered the houses in low-lying areas of Shah Jamal and Tajpura while electricity was suspended. According to Wasa Monsoon Control Room, the city’s Lakhsmi Chowk received 291mm rain, Nishtar Town 277mm, Qurtaba Chowk 270mm, Gulshan-e-Ravi 268mm, Pani Wala Talab 268mm, Johar Town 260mm, Tajpura 249mm, and Iqbal Town 232mm.

More than a dozen areas of Lahore recorded more than 200mm of rain, Commissioner Lahore Mohammad Ali Randhawa said, attributing the rain’s intensity and heavy magnitude to climate change and strong monsoon. The city administration and all officers and staff of Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa), Lahore, are fully mobilised to ensure the drainage of rainwater, he added. Earlier Lahore received the maximum rainfall of 256mm on June 26 while in 2022, the city received 238mm of rain,” Randhawa said. The commissioner said that in 2018, 288mm of rain was recorded in Lahore, adding the city has not received so much rain in such a short period of time in the last 30 years.

Punjab Interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi said that record-breaking rain caused urban flooding while the canal overflowed. “All the cabinet members and administration are in the field to clear the water. I am also monitoring the situation in the field and getting updates from all over Lahore continuously,” he said as he visited various areas, including Gaddafi Stadium, Gulberg, Liberty, Kalma Chowk Underpass, Garden Town, Ferozepur Road and Qurtaba Chowk to oversee water drainage operations.

Mohsin Naqvi said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had ordered the CM Inspection Team to conduct an inquiry into the deaths caused by electrocution. He said the team would find out whether the deaths were caused due to LESCO’s negligence and submit its report in two-three days. The caretaker CM directed Wasa to take over the process of clearing water from the Kalma Chowk Underpass from the Central Business District (CBD). The CBD had failed to clear the underpass, which was also filled with rainwater some days back.

Meanwhile, fish also appeared in the stagnant rainwater in some areas around the canal as well as in the Kalma Chowk underpass. Video clips of fish present on the roads were also posted on different social media sites by citizens. The bank on a drain running by the Maulana Shaukat Ali Road in Johar Town collapsed and the drain water, together with rainwater, inundated the Akbar Chowk, disrupting traffic flow on PECO Road, Faisal Town Road and College Road. The ongoing project of the Akbar Chowk flyover was also affected by the rainwater.

To a question about the accumulation of rainwater on Ferozepur Road, officials claimed that the overflowing of Sattukatla Drain was the main cause, which seriously affected the SOS Village, Children’s Hospital and adjacent localities. The rainwater had also entered a number of basements in main commercial markets such as Anarkali, Shah Alam, Akbari Mandi and Sheranwala Gate and caused losses of millions of rupees to traders, confirmed an official of WCLA.

In Gujranwala, three members of a family died in a roof-collapse incident in Kamoki due to rain. It was reported that Waris Masih, along with his family, was sleeping in his house when the roof of a room collapsed. As a result, Waris, his wife, two sons and a daughter were buried under the debris. The neighbours pulled out the injured and shifted them to a nearby hospital where the wife of Waris, Hanifa, son Adil and daughter Laiba succumbed to their injuries.

Meanwhile, at least three people died in rain-related incidents in different districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Geo News reported. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, two people died in Shangla and one in Karak.

The PDMA said eight people were injured, while seven houses sustained partial damage. One house was completely damaged. An official of the KP relief department said that compensation would be given to the victims as per the government policy.