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July 9, 2020

Six die from electrocution as rain continues to pile misery on citizens


July 9, 2020

As many as six people, including a child, were electrocuted to death while a majority of the areas of Karachi were deprived of electricity on Wednesday evening due to rain under the influence of a monsoon system, health officials and volunteers of rescue services said.

As usual, many low-lying areas and roads were inundated with rainwater and sewage after gutters overflowed following the rain. People faced extreme difficulties in reaching their destinations while many city areas were still without power till the filing of this report.

Karachi has emerged as a neglected city during the last three days as there seems to be no civic agencies to take care of the its issues. Even a moderate rainfall brought the city life to a standstill and most of the areas remained without electricity most of the time during the last three days during or after the rain, citizens said.

“We have seen intermittent showers on Wednesday afternoon in different areas of Karachi under the influence of a monsoon system that was present in the South-Southeast of Karachi and we are expecting intermittent rain to continue till Thursday morning in Karachi,” Sardar Sarfraz, chief meteorological officer of the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) told The News.

Surjani Town and North Karachi were the most affected areas due to the downpour on Wednesday evening as they received 25.4 and 20.8 millimetres (mm) of rain respectively, which caused flooding on roads, accumulation of water and sewage in the low-lying areas and hours-long power outages. The accumulated rainfall in the two areas throughout the day was recorded at 30.6mm and 23.4mm respectively.

“Surjani has so far received 30.6mm of rain since morning while North Karachi received 23.4mm of rain. PAF Masroor Base received 10.2mm while Faisal Base received 8mm of rain. Jinnah Terminal received 4.4 mm of rain, Nazimabad and Saddar 6.4mm and 6mm respectively, while University Road/Met Complex received 5.8mm of rain,” Sarfraz said.

According to him, the current weather system will continue to cause intermittent rain and showers in Karachi and its suburbs till Thursday (today) morning and it is expected to dissipate in the evening.

“We are not seeing any other rain causing system for Karachi till mid of July or even 17-18 of the current month. But weather would remain better with sea breeze blowing and temperature in the range of 34-35 degrees Celsius,” Sarfraz said.

Electrocution incidents

As many as six people, including a 10-year old boy, lost their lives due to electrocution in different areas of the city, police and rescue workers said, adding that most of the deaths occurred due to faulty power transmission system of K-Electric (KE).

Police said a 50-year old man, Mohammed Rafiq, was riding a motorcycle when an electric wire fell on him near the Kingri House on Habib Rehmatullah Road popularly known as Stadium Road. He died on the spot. The body was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) to fulfil legal formalities.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Haleem Adil Sheikh held KE responsible for Rafiq's death, announcing that he would lodge an FIR against the power utility. He claimed that the wire fell down after a short circuit. Sheikh, who also visited the spot, observed that KE had not removed the live wire even though two-and-a-half hours had passed.

Two persons, including 10-year old Ahmed Raza and another man who appeared to be in his 30s, were electrocuted to death in the Nagan Chowrangi area during the rain.

Police and rescue workers said three more persons died because of electrocution in the Hijrat Colony, Model Colony and Karimabad areas of the city during the rain on Wednesday. Their bodies were taken to different hospitals for medico-legal formalities.

Rain emergency cell

The Sindh energy department has established a special rain emergency cell to provide emergency information about incidents of electrocution in the province during the current season of monsoon, adds our correspondent.

In this regard, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh on Wednesday contacted the K-Electric (KE) chief executive officer, federal power division secretary and the chairman of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, urging them to immediately fix responsibility of the recent electrocution incidents in the province during rain.

The rain emergency cell could be contacted during the office timings from 10am to 5pm on the landline number 021-99207139. The rain emergency cell could also be accessed on the cell phone number 0333-2498330 in the case of KE, 0333-3778765 in the case of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company and 0333-2479882 in the case of Sukkur Electric Power Company.

Power outages

Several areas of the city were without electricity till the filing of this report. They included North Karachi, Surjani Town, Nazimabad and Liaquatabad. Residents of these areas complained that after the first shower on Wednesday, power supply to their areas was cut.

“For the last many hours, there is no electricity in my area in North Karachi. The entire area is without power since the rain started in the evening. Nobody is responding to our complaints at the KE helpline or at their offices,” said Naeem Tahir, a resident of North Karachi.

People from many other areas of the city also complained of continued power outages and demanded that the federal government do something for them.

Power utility’s claims

As a result of the recent rainfall in the city, K-Electric immediately mobilised its response teams to ensure restoration of power supply in the affected areas, read a statement issued by the power utility.

The statement said that K-Electric's senior management led by its chief executive officer monitored rain-related maintenance and power supply restoration work across the city. KE claimed that due to its continuous efforts, power supply was restored in the affected areas of Saddar, Nomaish Chorangi, Boat Basin, Korangi, Nazimabad, PECHS and Bahadurabad Society, in a timely fashion. In addition to that, the power utility said it also ensured continuous power supply at all the strategic locations including the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s major water pumping stations situated at Dhabeji and other locations.

A spokesperson for KE said: "Our teams faced hurdles in the restoration process due to fallen trees and other hindrances as well as standing rainwater around KE power infrastructure. To ensure public safety, electricity supply was also temporarily suspended in some low-lying areas in Karachi, where water had accumulated because of drainage issues."

The spokesperson also strongly rejected the attribution of electrocution deaths to its infrastructure. “Some of the incidents were reported from inside premises where KE has no jurisdiction. However, the unfortunate incident on Karsaz Road is being investigated where a motorcyclist was found near a broken wire. More details of this incident will be made available as soon as investigations are complete. Media is requested to report on such matters responsibly and avoid attributing such events to KE without their due verification.”

The power utility said that in addition to earthing and grounding, geo-tagging of electricity poles had been ensured as the safety of human lives remained its top most priority. KE added that this, however, could not be achieved without due action from the relevant government institutions.

KE requested government departments dealing with the rain emergency to ensure immediate drainage of standing rainwater around power installations. It also urged the citizens to maintain a safe distance from broken wires, poles and other power infrastructure during and after the rain.

The public was also requested to refrain from illegal and unsafe ways to steal electricity. Illegal hooks, TV and internet cables on the power infrastructure and unsafe use of electrical appliances could be hazardous, the power utility said.

KE said it could be reached through call centre 118, via SMS 8119 or through its social media platforms as well as the KE Live app for complaints.