Rains in Balochistan claim over 111 lives, destroy 50,000 buildings

Emergency imposed in province, Pak-Afghan border at Chaman closed
<p>Rescue workers shepherd trapped locals through a flooded field in Lasbella. PHOTO: BALOCHISTAN PDMA</p>

Rescue workers shepherd trapped locals through a flooded field in Lasbella. PHOTO: BALOCHISTAN PDMA

Heavy torrential rains have caused widespread devastation in Balochistan with the death toll rising to 111 and leaving a trail of 50,000 destroyed buildings and several hundreds of kilometers of roads washed out. It prompted the provincial government to impose an ‘emergency’.

The rain situation is such that even the border with Afghanistan at Chaman had to be closed - not because of any conflict between the two countries, rather because of heavy rains and pooled water making it impassable.

Meanwhile, some 250 people trapped by floods in Lasbella were rescued.

In an official message on Twitter, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo said that they were imposing an emergency in the province. As a result, leaves of all government officials and staff have been cancelled and they have been directed to report to rain duties.

Other staff on duty has been directed to suspend regular duties and report to rain-related assignments.

The chief minister directed to prioritize efforts to restore roads and communication networks across the province apart from providing emergency aid and relief to affectees.

He promised that those affected by the rains will be duly compensated in time.

The chief minister said that he will be visiting Lasbella on priority to oversee relief and rehabilitation efforts. He will visit other rain-affected areas as soon as the weather improves there.

He even cancelled all of his engagements in Islamabad to return to the province apart from cancelling his upcoming tour to the UK.

500% more rainfall than in the past

In a joint news briefing with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Highway Authority (NHA) officials on Thursday afternoon, Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aqili said that the province had received 500% more rains than what it normally receives in July which had caused the devastation.

He further disclosed that the rains and the resultant hill torrents and floods had destroyed 50,000 buildings in the province, including 6,070 residential structures.

Moreover, the raging waters had drowned some 111 lives.

“Floods also resulted in several injuries borne by around 1,000 people,” he added.

The chief secretary stated that around 10 districts suffered the brunt of the monsoon floods. Prime amongst them were Lasbella.

He lamented that over 6,000 kilometers of roads and standing crops on an area of 200,000 hectares were also affected by the rains and floods.

Earlier, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in a bulletin said that casualties caused by rain-related incidents including flooding and hill torrents had increased to 106.

Moreover, rains and flooding have either completely or partially destroyed around 6,077 houses.

Further, 712 livestock heads have perished in the rains and floods.

On rescue efforts, he said that they had so far rescued some 17,500 people from across Balochistan.

He added that they have dispatched rations for 16,087 houses while more than 10,000 tents and shelters have been provided.

“Due to bad weather, we have not been able to conduct relief provision efforts via the air,” he said.

He added that the federal and provincial governments have announced Rs1 million as aid for the flood affectees.

Hub River Bridge

NHA Chairman Capt (Retired) Khurram Agha said that they have reviewed the the collapse of Hub-Lyari bridge.

He added that the Hub Bridge was constructed by the Communication & Works Department in 1962. It had 24 spans, and each span was 25 meter long. The width of the bridge was 8.50 meter.

This bridge, he said, had outlived its designed service life and did not have sufficient strength to bear the immense load of modern heavy traffic.

Moreover, during the recent spell of heavy rainfall, the condition of the bridge worsened leading to fears of a repeat of the Sher Shah Bridge incident. Subsequently, traffic on the bridge was suspended on July 22.

Moreover, during the recent spell of heavy rainfall, the condition of the bridge worsened leading to fears of a repeat of the Sher Shah Bridge incident. Subsequently, traffic on the bridge was suspended on July 22.

Talking about the current conditions of remaining spans of Hub Bridge, the NHA chief said that he has issued directions to build a new bridge.

Furthermore, he said directions had been issued to fill all breaches that appeared in the highway on Bela-Uthal-Hub Sections on National Highway N-25 on top-most priority basis to facilitate locals and industrial sectors.

On the status of communication networks in the city following rains, he said that they have restored sections of the east-west highway, M-8 Sukkur-Gwadar Motorway.

He added that several bridges in and around Quetta have been restored and both, light and heavy traffic has resumed.

Pak-Afghan border at Chaman closed

Authorities on Thursday confirmed that the Pak-Afghan border in Chaman had been closed due to water logging.

The Bab-e-Dosti gate [Door of Friendship] has flooded, stalling cross border trade.

Levies’ officials said that foot traffic has also been suspended to avoid any accidents.

Rescue in Lasbella

Dozens of families in Lasbella, amongst the worst-hit areas, were caught in floods due to torrential rains.

Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (BPDMA) Director Faisal Panzai said that at least 250 people were caught in the rains in Okrri and other areas who were rescued.

He added that they were still engaged in rescue efforts in other parts of the district.

As many as 50 people were also rescued in Karwan area of Bela.

Meanwhile, the military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that troops of the Pakistan Army and Forntier Constabulary (FC) were assisting Balochistan’s civil administration in rescue and relief efforts due to recent flooding. Two army aviation helicopters flew from Karachi to Othal, to scour flooded areas of Lasbella.

These helicopters, the military said, had attempted to conduct overflights around Lasbella earlier in the week but poor weather conditions prevented flights.

Apart from providing relief goods, the helicopters will also help shift stranded people to safer places and also transport necessary relief items.

Moreover, the top officer in Gawadar visited Othal where rescue and relief teams are busy shifting people to safer places from Othal and Jhal Magsi and providing them with food and water.

Further, doctors and paramedics are providing medical care to affected people.

The coastal highway has been opened for all kinds of traffic and efforts are underway to repair the damaged communication infrastructure and restore utilities.
A safety levee in Turbat, which had breached, has been repaired.


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