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Cyclone Tauktae: Five killed as dust storm, gales hit Karachi

By M. Waqar Bhatti
May 19, 2021

KARACHI: At least five people, including a woman and two children, died in wall and roof collapse incidents in Karachi after an intense dust storm accompanied by light rain gripped the city on Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

The mercury had already touched 41.5 degrees Celsius in Karachi on Tuesday when the strong, gusty winds with a severe dust storm enveloped most of the city areas, resulting in incidents of walls and roofs collapse, falling billboards and other accidents. Officials confirmed it killed at least five people, including two children and a woman.

“The dust storm was partly a localized development and partly due to changes in the winds in the Arabian Sea under the influence of tropical cyclone Tauktae that made a landfall on the coast of Indian Gujarat. It was a brief but strong dust storm, accompanied by light rain and drizzle in some parts of the city,” Chief Meteorological Officer (CMO), Sindh, Sardar Sarfraz, told The News on Tuesday. The strong gusts uprooted trees and also blew away corrugated roofs in different parts of the city. Eyewitnesses reported large panels of cladding peeling off from a building on I I Chundrigar Road and collapsing on the road below but luckily nobody was reported hurt. The weather also caused the usual widescale power outages caused by tripping of as many as 925 K-Electric feeders in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Malir, Korangi, Saddar, Surjani Town and Garden. Power in some of these areas could not be restored till the filing of this report.

The PMD official said PAF Masroor Base and Surjani Town received 7mm and 5.8mm of rain, while Nazimabad, Saddar and some other areas also received light showers and drizzle, which brought the sizzling temperature down. The dust storm and the light rain, due to rise in the humidity from the Arabian Sea, brought a sudden relief to Karachiites from the sweltering conditions of the last few days, when the temperatures ranged on Sunday 39 C, Monday 43 C and Tuesday 41.5 Celsius. Even the Monday-Tuesday night was unbearably scorching at 33 Celsius with hot winds blowing across the city.

Forecasting weather conditions for Wednesday, the Chief Meteorological Officer said they are likely to remain hot and dry with temperature ranging between 38-39 degrees Celsius, but added that there are chances of another dust storm and light rain.

A woman and two minor children were among the five people who lost their lives and a dozen others injured in the heavy gales and accompanying dust storm. According to rescue services and police, 55-year-old woman Saleemunisa, wife of Ali Mohammad, was among the dead, while Waheed, 45, son of Nisar Ahmed, also lost his life after the wall of his house collapsed in Baldia Town. In a similar incident, 45-year-old Nasir died in Saeedabad. A 10-year-old boy died when the roof of his house collapsed at Muhammadi Road in Sher Shah neighbourhood. Also, 8-year-old Shan died after falling down from the third floor of a residential building in Clifton. Besides, 12 people were wounded in separate incidents of roof collapse in residential areas of Baldia Town, Orangi Town, SITE and Rashid Minhas Road.

As many as 925 feeders of K-Electric tripped in the city affecting large parts of the city comprising North Nazimabad, Nazimabad, New Karachi, Federal B Area, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Old City areas, Clifton, Scheme 33, Surjani Town, Orangi, Korangi, Landhi, Malir, Shah Faisal Colony, Jinnah International Airport, and Gadap. “As soon as the dust storm started, the power went off,” said a resident of North Karachi, adding that in some parts, the power was restored two hours while in many it had not.