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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Torrential rains kill 23 in Karachi, exposing failures of public office holders

Hundreds of vehicles were seen stuck in the middle of the submerged roads as people waded through knee-deep rainwater to reach their destinations

Torrential rains and flash floods continued to lash Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi, killing at least 23 people and injuring several on Wednesday, officials and local media reported. Frustrated residents of the city lashed out at the provincial and city administration for not taking adequate measures to prepare for the monsoon.

At least 15 people were killed due to roof and wall collapse incidents in different parts of the city, Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon told reporters. The remaining lost their lives due to electric current, and drowning, he said.

Read more: Imran Khan orders NDMA to fix rain ravaged Karachi

The latest casualties have shot up the death toll to 35 over the past three days, Memon added. The fresh rain spell submerged the city’s major thoroughfares and low-lying areas, forcing the administration to call in the army and paramilitary Rangers to rescue the stranded people in several localities.

The massive downpour struck Karachi on Tuesday night, lasting for the next 20 hours with short intervals. Heavy rains flanked by gusty winds also triggered landslides, power outages, and downed trees and utility poles in many areas.

Hundreds of vehicles were seen stuck in the middle of the submerged roads as people waded through knee-deep rainwater to reach their destinations. The city received 130-millimeter rains until Wednesday evening, with total 484-millimeter in August.

Read more: Karachi Rain: Saeed Ghani, Bakhtawar Bhutto’s tweets backfired on social media

Record shattering monsoon: Met Office

According to the meteorological department, downpours in August have shattered 89-year-old records for the city. Official statistics said some 45 people have been killed since the ongoing spell struck the city Aug. 6.

Footage aired on the local broadcaster Dunya News showed armed forces personnel and civilian rescue agencies’ workers using rubber boats to rescue the stranded people in the northern and western districts of the port city, which according to Meteorological Department, has received 120% more rains in August compared to the last year.

Read more: Karachi: Who converted the city of lights into a city of garbage?

Authorities have appealed to the citizens to say indoors as more rains are expected during the next 24 to 48 hours.

The NDMA said that the Sindh government had agreed to clean 19 drains while the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) has been tasked to remove garbage from Gujjar, Korangi and Mowach Goth drains. “The focus is to remove debris from 21 choked points of these drains. Some 24 excavators, two loaders, 90 dumpers, and 224 workers are engaged in the cleaning operation,” NDMA said in a statement.

The MQM-P and PTI’s Karachi leadership demanded that the federal government “intervene” and play its role for the people of Sindh.

“We are very grateful to Prime Minister Imran Khan for prioritising the solution of Karachi’s problems,” said PTI Karachi president and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman.

“Given the failure and incompetence of the PPP-led Sindh government, the federal government has decided to give responsibility to provide relief to the people of Karachi to the NDMA. We demand that the federal government intervene in Sindh, as the provincial government has completely failed to provide basic needs to the people,” said Zaman.

However, a section of political leaders believes that sending the NDMA to “clean up” Karachi cannot be a permanent solution. Pak Sarzameen Party chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to meet with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the presence of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the media to have the problems of Karachi solved.

“The poor governance situation of the port city has not only become problematic for its residents but also become crucial from the security perspective,” said Kamal, who has also served as city mayor.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on July 27 also said that “Karachi’s long-standing problems can’t be solved unless the elected local government representatives of the people become financially, politically and administratively autonomous in the spirit of the Constitution”. He had also directed the attorney general to immediately appeal to the apex court for an early hearing of and decision on the petition related to Article 140-A that was filed in the top court.

At least 122 people have been killed and over 40 others injured during the ongoing monsoon spell since June across the country, according to the National Disaster Management Authority, a state-run coordinating agency.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk