‘Record-breaking’ rains kill at least 9 in Punjab province

Lahore, the provincial metropolis of Pakistan, was devastated by an unprecedented deluge that shattered a 30-year rainfall record, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least nine individuals and leaving several others injured. The majority of the casualties were caused by fatal electrocution incidents.

The downpour, which measured a staggering 291 millimeters, caused chaos and widespread damage across the city.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority’s Director General, Imran Qureshi, disclosed that three people lost their lives due to electrocution and roof collapses, while a young girl tragically drowned. Furthermore, reports indicated that another drowning fatality occurred in Layyah.

Qureshi added that six other individuals sustained injuries during rain-related incidents in various parts of Punjab within the past 24 hours. These injured individuals were promptly transported to hospitals and provided with the necessary medical attention.

With an eye on responding swiftly to any emergency, Qureshi assured the public saying, “We are monitoring the situation from the provincial control room and residents can call us on 1129 for any help.” Additionally, he emphasized that machinery and personnel were on high alert and prepared to tackle any unforeseen circumstances.

Record-breaking Rain

Earlier in the day, the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, Mohsin Naqvi, described the rain as a “record-breaking” occurrence that caught everyone off guard as Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa revealed that such an immense amount of rainfall had not been witnessed in the city for the past 30 years. Comparatively, last year recorded 238 millimeters of rainfall, and 288 millimeters were observed in 2018.

While inspecting various parts of the city, caretaker CM Punjab assured the public through media that that he and his administration were actively involved in managing the crisis as teams had been deployed to clear main roads and drain water from inundated areas.

Naqvi specifically highlighted Muslim Town, Garden Town, and Gulberg as severely affected areas due to the overflowing of water from the Lahore Canal. Additionally, he warned that another round of heavy rain was expected at 9 pm, and preparations were underway to address the situation. Naqvi personally oversaw the efforts and remained vigilant in monitoring progress.

In his initial Twitter updates, Naqvi had lamented the urban flooding caused by the extraordinary rainfall, mentioning that Lahore experienced a staggering 272 millimeters within just nine hours.

In his latest tweet, he regretfully confirmed that the death toll had risen to seven as the rain persisted.

“Update: 291 ML Rain in Lahore since morning,” he wrote on Twitter. “7 Deaths since morning.”

Rainfall levels across the city

According to the latest data released by the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa), certain parts of the city witnessed over 200 millimeters of rainfall over the past ten hours. The highest recorded rainfall of 291 millimeters was observed at Lakshmi Chowk, followed closely by 277 millimeters in Nishter Town and 270 millimeters in Qurtaba Chowk.

The Wasa Managing Director, Gufran Ahmed, assured the public that all drainage systems were operating at full capacity and predicted that the rainwater across the city would be successfully drained within three to four hours.

Looking ahead, the Meteorological Office forecasts intermittent showers to persist in Lahore over the next 24 hours, further urging residents to remain cautious and take necessary precautions during this challenging period.

PM’s Response

The Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, also acknowledged the gravity of the situation and promptly instructed the Punjab caretaker chief minister to mobilize relief teams without delay.

“All possible steps should be taken to protect people’s lives and property,” he said.

In addition to directing the provincial government, Prime Minister Sharif also reached out to the federal government and the National Disaster Management Authority, urging them to extend assistance to the province if required. He specifically requested their support in issuing timely warnings to the citizens, arranging alternative traffic routes, and effectively draining the accumulated rainwater.

“The NDMA, in collaboration with the provincial disaster management authorities, should provide assistance,” he said.

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