QUETTA: The recent spell of monsoon rains, which started on June 1, has wreaked havoc in Balochistan, killing over 100 people so far and pounding most parts of the province.
In a press conference, Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Azai Aqili on Thursday revealed that as many as 111 people have lost their lives so far as heavy downpour continues in the province.
Giving details of the widespread destructions, the chief secretary said that the rains completely tore down 6,077 houses and partially damaged more than 10,000 homes — and these are just the official statistics.
Aqili said that 16 dams sustained minor or major damages during the rains, while crops and gardens stretching over two acres of land were also harmed.
“The recent monsoon spell brought more than 500% [as compared to earlier] rain and also severely damaged 2,400 solar panels,” the chief secretary said.
He noted that 10 districts in Balochistan were affected due to the rains, but fortunately, the situation at the Kech river was under control. The province’s top official also mentioned that 650km of roads were damaged in the rains.
Damaged roads hamper rescue and relief operations
The route from Karachi to Quetta has been closed for heavy traffic, he said, urging people to refrain from unnecessary travel — as it was in their best interest.
The chief secretary said that the Pakistan Army, Frontier Constabulary, and civil administration were conducting rescue operations, but damaged roads are hampering the efforts.
Aqili mentioned that 17,000 people have been rescued so far and rescue operations are underway to move 2,000 people to secure locations. The top official added that the leaves of all government employees have been cancelled in the wake of the disastrous rains.
During the presser, a National Highway Authority official mentioned that the Hub Bridge was built in 1962 and after the heavy rains filled the dam, it overflowed and in turn, damaged the bridge. He said that new bridges will be constructed on an “emergency basis” in Hub.
Repair works are also underway on N-25 and M-8 roads, he added.
But Balochistan’s plight might not end there as the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more rains in the province.
The PMD said from July 27 to 31, rains and thundershowers are expected to hit Quetta, Chaman, Harnai, Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Loralai, Bolan, Kohlu, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibbi.
PM forms committee to assess monsoon damage
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday (today) set up a committee comprising federal ministers to assess the damage in areas affected by monsoon rains and floods across the country and directed it to submit its report in this regard by August 4.
Chairing a meeting to assess the damage during the recent rains and floods, the prime minister asked the committee to visit all the affected areas within the next four days.
In line with the recommendations, a comprehensive short-, medium- and long-term plan will be formulated.
The prime minister directed to enhance the compensatory money to the affected persons from Rs 50,000 to Rs 200,000.
The compensation for partially damaged houses will be increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 250,000 and for fully damaged structures from the existing Rs 50,000 to Rs 500,000, APP reported
Taking to Twitter, PM Shahbaz said Pakistan was facing the challenges of climate change and stressed the need to address the problem of current flash flooding from the same perspective.
“Our ongoing floods and torrential rains need to be seen from that angle,” he said.
The prime minister mentioned that climate change was a reality that was greatly impacting Pakistan.
“Climate change is an undeniable reality of our times and has serious consequences for developing countries like Pakistan,” he said.
The prime minister said the government was aligning its development goals with the requirements of climate change.
Pakistan has been experiencing an unprecedented heat wave and a series of extreme climate events ranging from flash floods to forest fires.
Army launches rescue operation
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement, said that two army aviation helicopters have been flown from Karachi to Othal, and Lasbella areas.
“These helicopters had attempted [to fly] during last 48 hours, but could not fly due to bad weather conditions. The helicopters will now shift stranded people to safer places and also transport necessary relief items,” it said.
Gawadar’s general commanding officer visited the Othal area to oversee rescue and relief efforts, while the senior local commander at Khuzdar will also visit flood-affected areas of the district today.
Ground rescue and relief teams are busy in Othal, Jhal Magsi shifting people to safer places and provision of food and water to local residents, the ISPR said.
The military’s media wing said that doctors and paramedics are providing medical care to affected people. Moreover, it said that coastal highway has been opened for all kinds of traffic.
“Efforts are in hand to repair the damaged communication infrastructure and restore utilities. The protection bund in Turbat which was breached has been repaired.”
In Punjab, the ISPR said that troops are assisting civil administration in relief efforts in Dera Ghazi Khan after flash floods and hill torrents.
Two medical camps have been established by the army to provide medical care to residents affected due to floods, it added.
For Sindh, the ISPR said that apart from de-watering efforts in Karachi, troops are busy in relief efforts in Jamshoro and Gharo areas.