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Saturday May 25, 2024

Inclement weather taking its toll in parts of Pakistan

By News Report
April 19, 2024
Vehicles and horse carts passing through flood water at Bara Bazar area on Khuwani bridge after heavy rain in Peshawar on April 17, 2024. —APP
Vehicles and horse carts passing through flood water at Bara Bazar area on Khuwani bridge after heavy rain in Peshawar on April 17, 2024. —APP 

QUETTA/PESHAWAR: Rainstorms are coming down crashing on Pakistan, especially in parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), causing flash floods, infrastructural damage and loss of life, bringing whole towns to a swamping halt amid a forecast of more torrents in the weeks to come.

According to official estimates, until April 17, over 65 people had succumbed to weather-related incidents, including lightning across Pakistan, with rain so far in April falling at nearly twice the historical average rate; however, the death toll is expected to rise.

Torrential rainfall continued to wreak havoc in Balochistan, lashing its several districts over the past few days, with landslides and floods. As a result of heavy rains, floodwaters entered the town of Chaman, sweeping away a car and resulting in the loss of five lives. So intense were the flash floods that the Quetta-Chaman Highway continued to be submerged at several locations, disrupting transportation.

Issuing a high alert, authorities declared an emergency in hospitals. The wrath of rain was not restricted to the mainland as 100 fishing boats were reported to have been damaged dealing millions of rupees of losses to fishermen. Flooding was also reported in rural areas of Mardan. Moreover, the bridge over the Basol River on Makran Coastal Highway collapsed, cutting off land communication between Gwadar and Makran with Karachi.

National highways in Harnai remained blocked and heavy traffic could not be restored even after six days, while train services on the Harnai-Sibi railway section have been suspended for the last four days. In the rural areas of Balochistan, several orchards of apricot, pomegranate, grapes and apples and farms of onions and wheat were also laid waste to by the swamping floodwaters.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in its latest advisory, highlighted a series of moderate to intense weather systems that could cause rainfall and thunderstorms in the country from April 17th to 29th. “These weather patterns are anticipated to bring heavy rain, thunderstorms, and hailstorms, posing significant risks to various parts across the country,” said the NDMA news release. The forecast indicated that a weather system would enter Pakistan on April 17th, initiating a period of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms lasting until April 22nd.

Meanwhile, the Regional Meteorological Center of Balochistan has forecast very heavy rain and thundershowers at some places in Gwadar (Jiwani, Pasni), Kech (Turbat), Awaran, Chagi, Panjgur, Kharan, Washuk and Noshki districts during the next 24 hours.

The Meteorological Centre Balochistan has advised the relevant authorities to remain vigilant during the next 36 to 48 hours. Rain and thunderstorms were expected in Gwadar, Kech (Turbat), Awaran, Chagi, Kharan, Pasni, Ormara, Lasbela, Khuzdar, Kalat, Noshki, Jhal Magsi, Nasirabad, Sibi, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Loralai and Harnai on Thursday. The Met Office has forecast rain with wind and thundershowers in Quetta, Ziarat, Chaman, Pishin, Musakhel and Barkhan during the next 24 hours.

According to the NDMA advisory, Upper Punjab will experience the effects from April 18th to April 21st, while KP, Gilgit Baltistan (GB), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) will be affected from April 17th to 22nd April. Following this, a weaker weather system was expected to enter Pakistan on April 23rd, bringing low rainfall and thunderstorms to certain parts of the country until April 24th. However, Sindh was not expected to be impacted during this period.

Subsequently, a strong weather system is forecasted to enter Pakistan on April 25th, bringing heavy rain, thunderstorms, and hailstorms with occasional gaps until April 29th. This system will affect Balochistan from April 25th to April 29th, with intermittent gaps. Sindh will experience impacts on April 25th, 26th, and 28th, while south Punjab will be affected from April 27th to April 28th.

Upper Punjab will face the brunt from April 26th to April 29th, while KP will experience effects from 25th to 29th April, potentially impacting GB and AJK from April 25th to April 29th. The expected rainfall may trigger flash floods in local nullahs of vulnerable areas, including Khuzdar, Ziarat, Zhob, Sherani, Muslim Bagh, Quetta, Pishin, Kech, Panjgur, Gwadar, and Turbat.

Flooding may also occur in low-lying areas during the forecast period, particularly in southwestern Balochistan. In light of these projections, the NDMA has issued instructions for Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs), District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) and other relevant line departments to remain vigilant and prepared to respond to any emergent situations.