Torrential rains bring chaos to Pakistan as 49 killed

Special Torrential rains bring chaos to Pakistan as 49 killed
Members of Pakistani nomad community reelect their tent, uprooted by hailstorm and rains in suburbs of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 April 2019
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Torrential rains bring chaos to Pakistan as 49 killed

Torrential rains bring chaos to Pakistan as 49 killed
  • 15 people perish in Punjab province, 11 in Balochistan, five in Sindh, 18 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • Wheat crops worth billions destroyed, Met Office says storms likely to end by Thursday night

LAHORE: Storms and torrential rains that caused flash floods have killed 49 people and injured 176 others across Pakistan this week, including 15 in the country’s largest and richest province of Punjab, officials said on Wednesday.
On April 12, Pakistan’s Meteorological Office had issued an advisory for heavy rains and dust and thunderstorms lasting from Saturday to Wednesday and warned that the downpours could generate flash floods and trigger landslides.
In a breakdown of the death toll, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said 15 people had been killed in Punjab province, 11 in southwestern Balochistan, five in the southern Sindh province and 18 in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The rains have also damaged at least 117 homes across the country, the Authority said. 
Rashad Khan, Director General of the Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), said a spell of heavy rains, winds and hail storms, followed by flash floods, that started in the province on Monday had killed 15 people and injured 94 in various districts of Punjab. The storm had also destroyed ready-to-harvest wheat crops worth billions of rupees, he said. 
“Tuesday night saw the worst downpour coupled with strong winds and flash storms in 36 districts of Punjab,” Khan told Arab News. He said the storm had “seriously affected” 22 villages and partially damaged 31 houses. PDMA had set up 10 relief camps to provide help, the minister said. 
In the city of Faisalabad, rains knocked out power supply after technical faults occurred in 110 electricity feeders, a spokesman for the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company said. The cities of Jhang, Gojra, Sammundri, Tandlianwala, Sargodha and surrounding areas also suffered prolonged power shortages.
A handout from the office of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said all concerned departments were on red-alert.
Last year, the heaviest rains in 38 years turned roads into virtual rivers in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, stranding motorists and leaving at least six people dead.
The latest cycle of storms has also damaged wheat and corn crops in Punjab where farmers start harvesting in the third and fourth week of April.
“Wheat and corn crops covering over 30,000 acres have been affected,” Punjab Agriculture Minister Nauman Langrial told Arab News. “Still, we will try to achieve our target of wheat,” he added, saying compensation would be announced for affected farmers after a complete picture of damages was available. 
Pakistan’s Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz said the current cycle of rains would end by Thursday night. On average, he said, 40 millimeters of rain was recorded in various cities across the country while flash floods were reported in Balochistan, South Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In 2010, the worst floods in memory killed more than 2,000 people in Pakistan, with damage to infrastructure running into billions of dollars, and huge swathes of crops destroyed as a fifth of the country was inundated.