Superstorm Kyarr causes flooding, panic in Pakistan’s coastal villages

1 / 3
Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)
2 / 3
Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)
3 / 3
Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)
Updated 29 October 2019

Superstorm Kyarr causes flooding, panic in Pakistan’s coastal villages

  • Over a hundred villages in Karachi’s coastal areas are threatened by sea erosion
  • Meteorologists say the country is not under ‘direct threat’ by Cyclone Kyarr

KARACHI: Sughra Haroon, who lives in a small hamlet near the Arabian Sea, woke up in the middle of the night, Sunday, and found that her family was surrounded by ascending water. She got hold of her children and spent the rest of the night under the sky at a distant location from her cottage near the seashore.
Haroon’s home in Rehri is among hundreds of villages where water entered people’s homes on Sunday night, after cyclonic superstorm Kyarr affected Karachi’s coastal belt in southern Pakistan, forcing inhabitants, predominantly fisherfolk, to stay awake and alert through the night.
“I was born in this house, and I became a grandmother while living under this roof,” Haroon told Arab News. “It’s not that I haven’t seen tidal waves from the shore, but the water never sneaked up on me before. It was frightening.”
“The water may have receded,” she said on Monday afternoon while pointing to the grimy floor of her hut in Rehri. “But they say its level will be much higher tonight.”




Seawater flooded a home in Chashma Goth, Karachi, due to Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

The Pakistan Meteorological Department said in a statement on Monday: “The Super Storm Kyarr is likely to move further northwest toward Oman coast during the next few days. Currently, none of the Pakistan coastal area is under direct threat from this system. However, under its influence scattered DS/TS-rain is expected in lower Sindh and along Makran Coast during Wednesday-Friday. Fishermen are advised not to venture in deep sea from today.”




Sughra Haroon checks her belongings after the seawater receded Monday afternoon in Rehri Goth, Karachi. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

Some fishermen said that though the sea had always fed their families, it was becoming more dangerous every year for their settlements due to the effects of sea erosion and climate change.
“I was born in this village,” said Shafi Muhammad, 55, a fisherman at Chashma Goth. “When there were high tides, the water soaked us up in this neighborhood, but it never rolled into our houses like this before.”
“With each passing year,” he added, “the sea level is gradually rising.”




Women sit at a bench as water engulfed their house in Chashma Goth, Karachi, due to a cyclone in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

As seawater breached the coastline across the southern edge of the country, many activists, who have been concerned about sea erosion, said the government was not doing enough to prevent these settlements from vanishing underwater.
“Even a slight effect of a storm can submerge these communities,” said Zuhaib Ahmed Pirzada, who was part of the Restore Water Movement, a rally that was taken out in July this year to release enough river water into the sea.
“Despite the fact that the sea intrusion has engulfed 2.5 million acres of land in Thatta, Badin and Sujawal districts, the authorities are paying no heed,” he said.




Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

Since the authorities did not release adequate fresh water downstream from Kotri Barrage, Pirzada added, not enough silt was going into the Indus River Delta which, consequently, was putting coastal settlements at risk of being overrun by seawater.
Sea erosion had already drowned 28 out of 42 such parishes in Kharo Chan Taulka, he noted. “The situation has also been aggravated by climate crisis,” Pirzada said.




Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

The Indus River Delta has 17 creeks which enter into the Arabian Sea with 15 of them in Thatta, Sujawal and Badin. Before Pakistan came into being, Pirzada noted, 90 million acre-feet (MAF) of water was released from Kotri Barrage to the delta. In 2018, this figure decreased to 1.7 MAF.
“Releasing water is the domain of the federal government. All we can do is rehabilite and provide relief to the people. It’s true that these villages will vanish due to climate change. If sea erosion cannot be stopped, the fishermen will have to leave, but they say they cannot do that since they are living here for centuries,” Pakistan People’s Party lawmaker, Agha Rafi Ullah, told Arab News.




Seawater flooded people’s homes in Chashma and Rehri Goth, two fishing villages on Karachi’s coast, due to high tides caused by Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea on Sunday night. Photograph taken on Oct 28, 2019 (AN Photo)

Meanwhile, fisherman Shafi Muhammad said he had spotted a place atop a nearby mound as a safe place for his children.
“Let’s see how things unfold,” he said. “We have no hopes from the authorities.”


Pakistan’s fastest man shares recipe for success and delicious pulao

Updated 21 min 24 sec ago

Pakistan’s fastest man shares recipe for success and delicious pulao

  • Sami Ullah won the bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter race at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal
  • He reconciles his sports career with running his father’s pulao business

PESHAWAR: Pakistan’s fastest man, Sami Ullah, who won the bronze medal in the men’s 100-meter race at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal on Tuesday, is all into sports, but he also needs to support his family, which he does with a traditional rice dish – pulao.
“I know that I need time to practice and improve my speed, but I am also aware that my family depends on my pulao sales,” the 25-year-old athlete told Arab News during a phone call from Nepal’s Katmandu on Thursday.
The young runner’s talent has been widely recognized even before he won the gold medal at the National Games in Peshawar last month, when he completed 100 meters in just 10.64 seconds. For comparison, the record of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, for the same distance is 9.58 seconds.

Sami Ullah wins the bronze medal at the South Asian Games in Katmandu, Nepal, Dec. 3, 2019. (Photo courtesy: Sami Ullah)

Under his coach, Muhammad Shah, who as Ullah says “polished” his skills, the runner won gold twice when he was a teenager, in the under-14 and under-19 categories. It was also Shah who kept his spirits up when Ullah thought to give up.
“I injured my foot and treatment took four years. It was a crucial point in my sports career. I was disheartened and my dream of becoming a champion seemed to me an illusion,” he said. But at that time the coach and friends came with support and infused into him new energy.
Besides the coach, there was one more very special person who made his sports career possible.
“Since childhood I’ve been assisting my father at his pulao shop,” Ullah said. While back then the father was not enthusiastic about his son’s athletic career, the young runner found a powerful supporter in his mother, who secretly gave him money to buy vitamins and other things he needed to go on.

In this undated photograph, Sami Ullah runs his father’s pulao stall in Jamrud, Khyber district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. (Photo courtesy: Sami Ullah)

Sports is his passion, but Ullah knows that he must reconcile it with running the pulao business of his father Dilawar Khan. Khan migrated from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s southern district of Bannu to the town of Jamrud in Khyber, where in a roadside restaurant he introduced the delicious pulao variant of his home region.
His father’s recent retirement, gave Ullah sole responsibility for running the shop.
While he has his eyes fixed on bigger goals and wants to wave Pakistan’s flag in international competitions, the country’s fastest man begins his day slowly with cooking utensils, a manual weighing scale, spoons and a huge pot of rice.
His recipe for success is in loving for both his father’s legacy and his own dreams.
“No doubt, it is a difficult task to keep both the family business and my personal dreams alive,” he said. But he attributes his stamina to having many responsibilities. “That’s why I love both my father’s seat and my own goals,” he said.
His recipe for delicious pulao is in proportion. He mixes 25 kilograms of rice with the same amount of meat and cooks it all in a spicy garam masala blend. The spice mix, however, shall remain a family secret.