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Incessant rains continue to ravage Balochistan as death toll mounts

PM Shehbaz sets up committee to assess damages by August 4

Incessant rains continue to ravage Balochistan, leaving more than 100 people dead and destroying thousands of homes completely.

In a press conference, Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Azai Aqili told journalists that as many as 111 people have lost their lives so far as heavy downpour continues to hit the province.

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The chief secretary said that the rains completely tore down 6,077 houses and more than 10,000 homes were partially damaged – and these are just the official statistics.

Aqili said that 16 dams sustained minor or major damages during the rains, while crops and gardens stretching over two acres of land were also harmed. “The recent monsoon spell brought more than 500% [as compared to earlier] rain and also severely damaged 2,400 solar panels,” the chief secretary said.

He noted that 10 districts in Balochistan were affected due to rains, but fortunately, the situation at the Kech River was under control. The province’s top official also mentioned that 650km of roads were damaged in the rains.

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The route from Karachi to Quetta has been closed for heavy traffic, he said, urging people to refrain from unnecessary travel – as it was in their best interest. The chief secretary said that the Pakistan Army, Frontier Constabulary, and civil administration were conducting rescue operations, but damaged roads are hampering the efforts.

Aqili mentioned that 17,000 people have been rescued so far and rescue operations are underway to move 2,000 people to secure locations. The top official added that the leaves of all government employees have been cancelled in the wake of the disastrous rains.

During the presser, a National Highway Authority official mentioned that the Hub Bridge was built in 1962 and after the heavy rains filled the dam, it overflowed and in turn, damaged the bridge. He said that new bridges will be constructed on an “emergency basis” in Hub.

Repair works are also underway on N-25 and M-8 roads, he added. But Balochistan’s plight might not end there as the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more rains in the province. The PMD said that rains and thundershowers are expected to hit Quetta, Chaman, Harnai, Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Loralai, Bolan, Kohlu, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad, Sibbi.

In a briefing to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a high-level meeting on rains, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali said that 93 people lost their lives and 59 were injured in the July rains. He has constituted a committee to assess the damage caused by monsoon rains and floods, according to Radio Pakistan. Chairing a meeting in Islamabad, he said that the committee comprising federal ministers should visit all affected areas in the next four days.

The prime minister said short, medium, and long-term plans will be formulated in light of the committee’s recommendations on the fourth of next month. The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to enhance compensatory money to the affected persons from Rs50,000 to Rs200,000.

He added that the federal government would provide full assistance to provincial governments to deal with the disaster. He urged the national and provincial disaster management bodies to ensure the implementation of the ‘Disaster Risk Management’ strategy. He also called upon them to fast approach the ministries concerned and international donor agencies to get financial assistance to deal with the challenge.

“Climate change is an undeniable reality of our times and has serious consequences for developing countries like Pakistan. Our ongoing floods and torrential rains need to be seen from that angle. The government is aligning its development goals with the climate change requirements,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

Official present during the meeting informed the participants that so far 356 people have died across the country due to floods and rains. Apart from Balochistan and Sindh, the officials said one person was killed in Islamabad, 69 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 76 in Punjab, 8 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 6 in Azad Kashmir while the number of injured people is 406.



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