QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: Pakistani minister for climate change Sherry Rehman said on Wednesday 77 people had died since June 14 as monsoon rains wreaked havoc in the country, with almost half the deaths taking place in the impoverished southwestern province of Balochistan.
The Pakistan Meteorological office had predicted heavy rainfall and thunderstorms from June 30 to July 5 and also issued a weather warning for urban floods in some regions.
“77 people have died since June 14 in monsoon rains,” Rehman said at a press conference, adding that the monsoon rain pattern was moving from the north of the country to the southern provinces of Balochistan and Sindh.
“Most deaths were in Balochistan till morning [Wednesday]. We got the figure of 39 deaths in the province,” she said, adding that children and women were among those who had lost their lives. Media reported that at least 20 of the Balochistan deaths had occurred in the last 24 hours of rain.
Rehman said Pakistan had received “above normal” levels of rains during June and July.
The government of Balochistan has declared Quetta a “natural calamity-hit area,” with 10 people, including women and children, killed due to torrential rains that hit the provincial capital on Monday at the start of the monsoon season.
More than 350 mud houses also collapsed in Quetta while six members of a family were killed after a mud wall collapsed on a tent in the Link Badini area of Quetta.
The district administration of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, has established a flood emergency control room to monitor and address emergencies in the city and its adjacent areas.
“The monsoon rains and floods have badly hit Quetta, Killa Saifullah, Kachi, Harnai, Khuzdar, Zhob, Kohlu, Kalat, and Lasbela districts and casualties and damages have been reported in the areas since the pre-monsoon rains spell in Balochistan,” the head of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Naseer Khan Nasir, told Arab News.
“39 people have been killed in various rain-related incidents in the province since the pre-monsoon started since June 13 and more than 60 people have been injured but the torrential rains that started from July 04 have caused major destruction,” he added.
Balochistan government spokeswoman Farrah Azeem Shah said the government was utilizing all resources to ensure relief reached the people affected by torrential rains and floods.
“The government will start damage assessment and rehabilitation work after completing the rescue operation,” she said. “We are fully prepared to handle the second spell of monsoon as the Met office has predicted more rains in various districts of Balochistan in the next 48 hours.”
“Rescue & relief operation of @PDMABalochistan & Quetta district administration is underway, food items & other necessities have been distributed among rain affected families in Bakra Mandi Western Bypass & other areas,” assistant commissioner in the Sariyab area of Quetta said on Twitter.
Director PDMA Attaullah Baloch said rescue teams had retrieved four bodies from the Khasnoob area of district Killa Saifullah of people who drowned in floods on Tuesday. The bodies of four children who slipped into a ravine in Turbat had also been recovered.
Assistant Commissioner Mach, Ayesha Zehri, said five coal miners had drowned in a flash flood in Mach.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has urged provincial authorities to take preventive measures to avoid loss of life and damage to property. The rains have also affected telecommunication and power supply in some parts of the country.
In 2010, the worst floods in memory affected 20 million people in Pakistan, with damage to infrastructure running into billions of dollars and huge swaths of crops destroyed as one fifth of the country was inundated.