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ISLAMABAD: “Flash floods triggered by ongoing monsoon rains have killed at least 77 people across the country besides, destroying hundreds of houses, killing livestock, and damaging standing crops”.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, while addressing a press conference, here on Wednesday. She said the monsoon rains across the country that started on June 14 have claimed 77 lives so far, of which, 39 deaths were reported in Balochistan.

“The figure included children, men, and women. We are trying to reach out to the locals with the help of the national and provincial disaster management authorities”, she said.

Heavy rains have been lashing elsewhere in the country since the start of this week. According to authorities, the downpour has wreaked havoc in Balochistan especially, in the provincial capital, Quetta, where the local administration has declared an emergency following 20 deaths.

Rehman said that urban flooding had been reported in Quetta, Pasni, and Turbat. “The water levels are high and people need to be careful because the monsoon patterns are changing. At this moment, the rains across Pakistan are 87 percent more than the average downpour”.

Rain-related incidents in Quetta claim 11 lives

She further said that so far, Azad Jammu and Kashmir has received 49 percent more rains than anticipated, Gilgit-Baltistan received 67 percent less rains than anticipated, Punjab 22 percent less, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) 28 percent less rains.

While giving the details of the current monsoon rains, the minister said that in Balochistan, the rains were 274 percent more than the average rainfall, while so far, Sindh has received 261 percent more rains than normal, which the minister stressed was “alarming”.

“This is the beginning and we need to prepare for it”, she said, adding that the Climate Change Ministry had issued alerts, instructing provinces to clean their nullahs.

“This is definitely a national tragedy for me, especially when so many people are losing their lives. This is not a small thing and the State has to give special attention to it”.

She explained that pre-monsoon rains came in earlier than expected this year. For this purpose, the ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had prepared a contingency plan.

“But all the provinces have to chalk out their relief plans and reach out to the federal government if need aid or help”.

She stated that the Met office and the disaster management authorities were issuing advisories on a daily basis. But, she underscored, they need to be taken “seriously” by the authorities. “This is the sixth day and we need to be vigilant”.

The minister said that the government was active but the public should also play their role to protect themselves and their livestock during the inclement weather, especially, those living in low-lying areas.

Following her presser, she tweeted; “The new normal for the monsoon season: PMD has forecast 1st July to mid-August for the first phase of the monsoons, with 87 percent precipitation already above normal. Much of it will be in the south we are told. For June the rainfall was over 67 percent. Balochistan, Sindh highest affected”.

Although it did not rain heavily in Karachi till almost the end of Wednesday afternoon, the metropolis is expected to receive 40-50 mm of rain under the influence of a strong weather system that has developed over the sea.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in a weather advisory has said that low air pressure is present in the south of Sindh which is getting moisture from the North Arabian Sea.

It added that intermittent moderate rain-thunderstorms in isolated heavy falls at sometimes were expected in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Thatta, Hyderabad, and TandoAllayar till July 8.

The department also forecast rains till the same date in Tando Muhammad Khan, Jamshoro, Sanghar, Nawabshah, Dadu, NosheroFeroz, Qambar Shahdad kot, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Sukkur districts, and Karachi.

“These rains may cause water logging in low-lying areas in Karachi Division, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Qambar Shahdad kot, Shikarpur, Larkana, Jacobabad and Sukkur Districts”, the Meteorological department said.

Following the deaths of dozens of people, the Balochistan government declared Quetta a “disaster-struck area” and imposed a state of emergency in the provincial capital.

Due to torrential rains, the rivers and canals of the province overflowed. As of Wednesday morning, more than 20 were injured when the walls and roofs of dozens of houses collapsed and people drowned as well due to flash floods.

According to the Balochistan Disaster Management Authority, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Pishin, and Harnai districts have been the most affected by the rains, whereas, flood conditions have also been reported in Muslim Bagh, Qamaruddin, and Khushnoob.

There were flash floods overnight in several villages of Khushnoob, and a link bridge was swept away, making it difficult for rescue workers to reach the affected people.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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