September 08, 2014 – Agencies
ISLAMABAD: Floods triggered by heavy rains have caused widespread destruction across vast swathes of the country, leaving over 180 people dead in Punjab, officials said on Sunday.
The floods have wreaked devastation in Hafizabad, Sialkot and Gujranwala districts of Punjab, inundating hundreds of thousands of acres of agriculture land and leaving several areas cut off from the rest of the country. Nearly 200 villages in Hafizabad and over 80 villages in Chinot have been inundated while floodwaters entered Jhang city. Meanwhile, water was receding in many areas of Lahore and other districts. But “a red alert” has been issued in four districts – Jhelum, Sialkot, Nankana Sahib and Narowal – where the situation was still precarious.
Heavy rains have damaged thousands of houses in Punjab and Azad Kashmir. In the worst-hit Punjab, the death toll from rains and flooding over the past three days hit 182 while over 300 people were injured. Another 48 people have died in Azad Kashmir. Rescue workers struggled to reach remote mountain villages in the scenic Neelum Valley along the Line of Control but landslides hampered efforts. The landslides caused by rains have damaged hundreds of houses in Kashmir.
Reports said the highway connecting Muzaffarabad to Srinagar has been closed due to flooding in Jhelum River, with bus service and trade line between both the two sides also suspended. The usually slow-flowing River Jhelum, which meanders through Srinagar, is running far above the danger levels, swollen by pounding rains. The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has said that presently River Chenab is in a very high flood at Marala, Khanki and Qadirabad bridges since the flood has entered the river from India.
Troops and other emergency personnel have been deployed for rescue operation, with boats and helicopters being used to reach stranded people. An operation by the Pakistan Army is underway and so far 970 people have been rescued in Jhelum, Sarai Alamgir, Sialkot and Qadirabad. The operation is being carried out with the help of helicopters and boats. The Punjab government has announced flood emergency throughout the province to deal with the situation arising out of heavy rains and floods.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday chaired a high-level review meeting and ordered acceleration of relief and rescue efforts in the country. The PM took an aerial tour of flood-hit areas of Sialkot and Narowal on Sunday. Accompanied by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, the PM was briefed on relief and rescue operations in the areas.
Catastrophic rain-related incidents claimed thirty-three more lives in Lahore on Sunday, local media reported. The death toll is expected to rise as the Met authorities have warned that more intense rainfall and floods might hit the country. Majority of the deaths reported across Punjab have been due to roof collapses and electric shocks. Though the rains have stopped after four days, the destruction caused by the heavy rains continues to plague several cities of Punjab. Incessant rains have damaged thousands of houses.
Meanwhile, in the Shadiwal Town of Gujrat, a man drowned in a flash flood. In Rawat three men got trapped under the wreck of their collapsed house. Earlier, two deaths were reported from the growing industrial city of Daska. The floods have claimed two lives in Sialkot and Parur Tehsil, which is a subdivision of Sialkot District. Meanwhile, two of the three people caught in a heavy flash flood in Chawinda town of Pasrur were rescued by the Pakistan Army soldiers.