Nowshera Deputy Commissioner (DC) Mir Reza Ozgen renewed his call on Saturday for the relocation of the district’s residents to safer places as flow in Kabul River rose above 250,000 cusecs, resulting in a “very high flood” in the river, in the wake of unprecedented rains that pushed most of the country into a crisis.
Meanwhile, DawnNewsTV reported that the flood had caused widespread devastation to the district, submerging several villages.
At present, more than half of Pakistan is under water and millions of people have been rendered homeless as a result of flash flooding generated by abnormal monsoon rains which have entered their eighth spell with no signs of subsiding.
On Friday, parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, also home to Nowshera, witnessed devastation as the Kabul River and Swat River experienced “very high floods”, triggering evacuations by the authorities from low-lying areas and imposition of emergency in Swat and other districts.
Subsequently, calls were made for the evacuation of residents from Nowshera and Charsadda keeping in view the increased risk of flooding as water levels in the rivers rose and part of Munda headworks, which regulates the flow of the Swat River, collapsed.
The Nowshera DC urge for evacuations again today morning, saying in a statement that there was a “very high flood” in the Kabul River in the district.
“The water level in the Kabul River in Nowshera has crossed 250,000 cusecs,” said the statement, adding the water level was rising further.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority in KP issued a statement around the same time, saying that the water level in the river in Nowshera was recorded at 274,335 cusecs. It added that the river’s water level in Virk had reached 130,364 cusecs.
Meanwhile, the Nowshera DC appealed to citizens to move to safer locations. He said relief camps had been set up for people affected by floods and urged them to shift there.
Evacuations in several other areas of KP were also started on Friday as they witnessed devastation with the Kabul River and Swat River experiencing “very high floods” at many spots.
A district administration official told Dawn that nearly 200,000 people were evacuated to safer places in Charsadda by Friday night.
This was after the KP government declared a rain emergence in several districts, including Swat, where floods washed away dozens of hotels, bridges, mosques and link roads and submerged hundreds of houses, shops and restaurants.
The death toll from rain-induced floods was recorded at 42 in the province by Friday night, with 21 deaths reported from Mansehra and Kohistan, 12 from Swat, five from Shangla, three from Lower Dir and one from Lakki Marwat.
Situation in Balochistan
The situation was not different in Balochistan, which has probably suffered the most in the aftermath of devastating monsoon rains this year.
Highways linking Balochistan with other provinces remained non-operational on Friday as relentless rains and floods did not allow authorities to repair the damaged arteries.
Meanwhile, another bridge on the Quetta-Sukkur also suffered damage due to flooding in the Bolan River.
Quetta and its outskirts remained submerged as a 36-hour-long rain spell inundated most parts of the provincial capital, bringing life to a standstill and leaving hundreds of families without homes.
In Nawan Killi, Chashma Achozai, Pashtoonabad, Hazara town, Faisal town, various localities in Sariab, Sabzal road and western and eastern bypass areas, the flood water forced the people to leave their homes.
The situation in the Nasirabad division further deteriorated as overflowing Bolan, Lehri and Nari rivers hit the protection dams in Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi and Sohbatpur districts. At least 100 villages were submerged after the Sabri dam was breached.
And to add to the province’s miseries, the capital now also faces an acute liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage, as authorities could not repair two gas pipelines washed away by floods in the Bolan River on Friday,
The 12-inch diameter pipeline, which supplies gas to Quetta and other towns of Balochistan, was swept away near Bibi Nani areas of the Bolan district a week after a 24-inch main pipeline was washed away in a flash flood last week.
Subsequently, long queues of people were witnessed at LPG dealers’ shops carrying gas cylinders.
“We are here in a long queue for two hours but gas is not available,” Tariq Ali, a resident, told Dawn.
The shop owners said that they were also “paying extra money to the LPG dealers” owing to the lack of LPG in the market. The dealers were importing gas from Iran and Karachi and due to the closure of highways the LPG supply had been suspended.
Telephone and internet services were disrupted in several parts of Balochistan due to damage caused by torrential rains. The services were partially restored in 10 districts of the province by Friday night.
Govt decides to deploy army
Rain-induced floods have been wreaking havoc in several parts of the country for weeks now and as the situation became worse on Friday, the government decided to deploy the army in all provinces to help the civilian authorities in rescue operations in calamity-hit areas.
A notification issued to this effect said the exact number of troops and areas of deployment would be worked out by respective provincial governments in consultation with the military operations directorate and General Headquarters.
“…The date of de-requisitioning of said deployment will be decided subsequently after mutual consultation among all stakeholders,” the notification read.
Meanwhile, flight and train operations remain suspended on Friday in several areas of the country owing to bad weather conditions.
The government has sought international assistance to cope with the devastation and while many global bodies and countries have pledged funds for relief work, the international community’s response to the government’s appeal has been slow so far.
According to the latest estimates, nearly 1,000 people, including 300 children, have lost their lives because of rains and resulting flooding that has impacted nearly 33 million people – almost 15 per cent of the country’s population.