• 23 killed in KP, Balochistan; six more dams burst
• ‘High-flood’ expected in Kabul, Indus rivers over next 24 hours; more than 350,000 evacuated from at-risk areas in Charsadda, Nowshera
• PM, COAS visit flood-hit areas, pledge to support all those displaced by disaster
• Rail traffic on Lahore-Karachi main line suspended until Aug 31

PESHAWAR / QUETTA / SUJAWAL: As the death toll from the calamitous floods sweeping the country crossed the 1,000 mark on Saturday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the flood-hit areas of Balochistan and Sindh and vowed to make all-out efforts to compensate and rehabilitate all those affected or displaced by floodwaters.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, around 350,000 people were evacuated from flood prone areas of Nowshera and Charsadda districts, while at least 14 were killed in rain-related incidents in Lower Dir, Mansehra and Kohistan.

Meanwhile, fears of another flood in the River Kabul were averted after the Nowshera administration and Wapda authorities managed to restrict water discharges from the Tarbela and Warsak dams, preventing water levels from rising further.

An irrigation department official told Dawn that though the flow in the River Kabul and other rivers and their tributaries had decreased, the situation was fluid at the moment and making any predictions would be premature.

In Balochistan, the destruction brought on by torrential rains and flashfloods caused by hill torrents continued as six dams burst in the Ziarat, Pishin and Mastung areas.

At least nine more people were killed in rain and flood-related incidents across the province over the last 24 hours. In addition, multiple reports were received about more deaths, and damage to homes and settlements in Quetta and further afield.

Separately, Pakistan Rai­l­ways (PR) has suspended all its operations from Lahore to Karachi on the main line, directing authorities to refund tickets for those who had already secured reservations for Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and other stations.

Rail operations would remain suspended until August 31 and would be restored from September 1, subject to the completion of the repair and maintenance work and improvement in the weather.

A PR spokesperson told Dawn that the operations between Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad and Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar would continue, as there was no affect on the track in these sections.

PM’s visit

During his visit to the rain and flood-hit areas of Taluka Shahbunder in Sujawal on Saturday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Faqirani Jat, Oplono as well as other parts. In his briefing to the PM, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah revealed that this year, Sindh had received 400 times more rains than usual.

The chief minister said that this monsoon had dealt irreparable damage to agriculture and livestock in the province, with crops submerged and hundreds of thousands rendered homeless.

The PM acknowledged that few parts of the province remained dry, but the government would try to reach the affected population through helicopters and boats.

“All affected provinces of the country would get relief grants, Rs 38 billion have already been released by the federal government in this regard,” PM Shehbaz claimed, adding that Federal Minister Khurram Dastagir would stay in Sindh until the issue of power outages was resolved.

Later, in a tweet, he summed up the devastation he had witnessed in these words: “The magnitude of the calamity is bigger than estimated. Times demand that we come together as one nation in support of our people facing this calamity. Let us rise above our differences & stand by our people who need us today.”

Army chief’s visit

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa was also in the field on Saturday, visiting the flood-affected areas of Balochistan. He went to the flood relief and medical camps established at Goth Sadoori, Lakhra, and Lasbela and inquired about well being of local people affected due to floods.

According to ISPR, General Bajwa also met troops busy with relief operations and lauded their efforts. “The safety and well being of our countrymen comes first and we won’t rest until each one of the flood affected is not only reached but rehabilitated, no matter how much effort is required. The people of Pakistan are our priority and we won’t spare any effort to assist them in this difficult time,” COAS said.

He ordered that all available resources should be utilised to assist the civil administration for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of people and infrastructure in the flood affected areas.

The Commander 12 Corps Quetta Lt-Gen Asif Ghafoor also visited Lasbela to meet flood victims, alongside the general officer commanding Gwadar.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

A National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) advisory said that very high level flooding will continue in River Kabul at Nowshera for the next 24 to 48 hours, while the River Indus at Chashma is likely to attain high to very high flood level in the same period.

River Kabul in Nowshera district was still in high flood on Saturday evening but water discharges recorded a slight decrease. On the other hand, even though water discharges in River Swat had decreased considerably by the evening, many areas of Charsadda district were still under water. However, no deaths reported from both districts.

The collapse of Munda headworks, which regulates the flow of River Swat near the Abazai village, on Friday night had sparked panic in the area. In Charsadda, at least 18 villages including Nisatta, Parang, Tarnab, Hisar, Yasinzai, Agra and Paidakhel were inundated. But by Saturday evening, the around 260,000 cusecs discharged from the headworkds on Friday night had decreased to 84,000 cusecs.

The Charsadda district administration said that of the 185,000 people evacuated, only a few thousand were staying at camps, while the majority were staying their families.

Displaced people take refuge along a highway after fleeing from their flood hit homes following heavy monsoon rains in KP's Charsadda district on Saturday. — AFP
Displaced people take refuge along a highway after fleeing from their flood hit homes following heavy monsoon rains in KP’s Charsadda district on Saturday. — AFP

On the other hand, Nowshera district administration said that they also evacuated about 150,000 to 185,000 from low lying areas to safer places.

Several parts of the district, including Mohib Banda, Pir Sabaq, Pashtun Ghari, Banda Sheikh Ismail and Khesghi areas remained inundated.

The Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organization said that it’s 17-megawatt Ranolia power station was badly damaged, while the 36.7MW Daral Khawar station in Swat was damaged due to floods.

According to Wapda officials, raging torrents of the River Swat also breached the protection dyke around the diversion tunnel of the under-construction Mohmand Dam, a few kilometres upstream of Munda headworks, hampering construction activities.

Two micro-hydel power stations were also washed away in the Kalam area of Swat.

Balochistan

Sources said nine bodies of those who were swept away in flashfloods, including three children, were recovered from Pishin, Dear Bugti, Hanna Orak, Mastung and Chashma Achozai areas

Killi Nasaran, a locality on the outskirts of Quetta, was badly affected after the Spine Karez overflowed, near Quetta Cantonment, washing away over 250 mud houses and rendering 300 families homeless. The displaced were shifted to Police Lines, officials said.

Officials said that three dams, including Kech, Pechee and Kawas dams, burst in Ziarat, while the road linking Ziarat with Quetta and other areas was also washed away.

Three dams were damaged in Pishin, Mastung and Bolan districts due to overflowing after filling of their maximum capacity.

In Sibi, seasonal rivers also overflowed, inundating many localities in the town and its outskirts.

The situation in Bolan district was not much better; after a 150-year-old railway bridge, the Bibi Nani bridge was damaged while another bridge on the Quetta-Sukkur highway was also washed away.

Nasirabad, Sohbatpur, Jaffarabad and Jhal Magsi were also facing huge floods from the Lehri River. “Four to five feet flood water is standing in and around Dera Murad Jamali, Dera Allahyar and Sohbatpur area.”

Officials said on Saturday that traffic on the Quetta-Karachi highway had been restored.

Khalid Hasnain in Lahore, Faiz Muhammad in Charsadda and Nisar Ahmed Khan in Manshera also contributed to this report.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2022

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