Thousands displaced by floods as army deployed


Pakistan Army troops have been called out for rescue operations after torrential rains and flooding displaced thousands of people in Chitral, as more than 200 villages in Punjab’s Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah and Muzaffargarh districts and in Ghotki, Sindh, are submerged under floodwater from River Indus and the government authorities are busy evacuating them to safer places.

Army helicopters dropped food packages and water bottles to thousands of marooned residents in Chitral valley on Tuesday, where surging floods have caused widespread destruction. More than two dozen bridge have been washed away, isolating the valley from rest of the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani told reporters that hundreds of people have been accommodated in schools in less-affected areas of the valley.

“There is an emergency situation in Chitral. We are trying our best to rescue the people,” Ghani added.

Afsar Khan, a resident in the tourist destination of Kailash valley, said by telephone that hundreds of people had taken refuge in the mountains as scores of villages had been inundated with floodwater.

“There is a huge shortage of food and drinking water here. We have children with us but we don’t have food for them,” he said.

Over 200 villages have also been flooded in northeastern Layyah, DG Khan, Bhakkar, Muzzafargarh and Ghotki districts, where floodwater has submerged large swathes of agricultural lands and damaged crops.

TV footage showed people carrying luggage and wading through flooded roads, or using boats, to reach the safer ground.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has directed field commanders of the Pakistan Army to extend all possible assistance to people in areas affected by floods.

“All field commanders have been instructed to carry out effective reconnaissance of their areas and provide all possible relief to people affected by floods,” said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“All corps headquarters are monitoring the flood situation in their respective areas of responsibility, and have made preparations to deal with any eventuality arising due to expected floods,” the ISPR statement added.

According to the NDMA and Met Office, flash floods wreaked havoc in Chitral, Rajanpur, Awaran and Ghotki, forcing residents to shift to safer locations while leaving behind their belongings and property, including livestock.

Glacial lake outbursts, cloud outbursts and flash floods hit different parts of district Chitral at midnight on July 16, causing extensive damage to houses, mosques, bridges, roads, irrigation, and water channels. The communication infrastructure was also severely affected. The Met office director general, however, said that the situation in Chitral was the result of melting of glacier and not monsoon rains.

The situation may worsen as the Met Office has warned that there would be a risk of flash flooding in the local streams and nullahs of Punjab, Upper KP, eastern Balochistan and Kashmir during the next three days due to unstable weather conditions and significant monsoon rains. It also advised the people living in the low-lying areas along streams and nullahs to remain careful during that period.

In South Punjab, over 100 villages were submerged in floodwater, which created problems for villagers and animals.

According to weather experts, widespread rain/ thundershowers are expected in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Kashmir, as well as Lahore, Gujranwala, and Hazara divisions. Scattered rain/ thundershowers are predicted in Malakand, Peshawar, and Mardan along with Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan. Isolated rain and thundershowers are also expected in Bannu, DI Khan, Sibbi, Kalat, Naseerabad, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Mirpurkhas Division.

According to reports, discharge of water from Taunsa Headworks was 410,500 cusecs with medium flood. The discharge from Kalabagh has been recorded 383,000 cusecs. The discharge from Chashma has been recorded 479,000 cusecs.

Spillways of Tarbela and Khanpur dams have been opened after surge in water level. According to the dam administration, water level in Tarbela dam has reached 1526 feet. Water inflow in Tarbela dam is 349,200 cusecs while the outflow is 309,500 cusecs.

Four villages in Rawaki near the Kacha area of Ghotki were completely inundated while more than 50 villages in Guddu remained cut-off from the rest of the country. High-level flood recorded in Indus River at the location of Chachra in Rahim Yar Khan, officials say.

According to District Flood Control Room, a stream of 2, 60,000-cusec water is passing through the river with a flood warning issued in Indus River. Various rivers – Jhelum, Sutlej, Kabul and Indus – have been witnessing medium to high-level floods at various points and the authorities have directed the staff concerned on duty to remain alert to cope with any emergency.