LAHORE - A strong windstorm spawning torrential rains lashed the Punjab metropolis on Saturday flooding roads and streets, disrupting transportation and turning the normally bustling capital city into a deserted town forcing the majority of the citizens to stay indoors.
The long-awaited appreciably-wet spell brought a considerable relief to the local population which had been sweating in the worst kind of sweltering heat with humidity touching unprecedented 89 per cent mark. The residents had suffered 14 to 18 hours power outages to make things worse for them.
The Met Office measured the rainfall at 168 millimetres within 90 minutes at the airport, said to be the highest in the city in 28 years.
Earlier, a strong windstorm hit the city uprooting trees in posh areas including DHA and at the Mall Road. A young girl lost her life as the roof of her house collapsed during rain torrents. A woman and her child were injured in another roof collapse in F Block of Johar Town. A tree fell on the car of Deputy Attorney General near GOR-1 with no one inured.
The worst traffic jam was observed at the Canal Road after the traffic was stopped to pass from the Jail Road underpass after three to four feet water accumulated there. The situation was no different at other underpasses which were choked by motorcyclists and pedestrians who took refuge therein to escape rain torrents.
Weather pundits have forecast further rains during the next 24 hours. According to them, Lahorites have tasted the first spell of delayed monsoon that has jeopardised all earlier forecasts of more than usual rainfall, forcing them to revise their estimates claiming 15 to 20 per cent additional rains this monsoon.
Other cities that received rainfall today include: Islamabad 139 millimetres, Rawalpindi 75, Murree 62, Muzaffarabad 50 and Lower Dir 29mm, according to the Met Office.
Bad weather conditions at Islamabad Saturday disturbed PIA flight schedule too, forcing the airport authorities to divert incoming flights to Lahore – where the skies were clear in the early morning – and rescheduling of international flight departures, a PIA spokesman informed.
After the downpour in Lahore, Wasa teams were seen making frantic efforts running from one point to another trying to drain accumulated rainwater on major roads and crossings. A fairly large number of vehicles were stuck in two to three feet water that gushed into their car seats rendering their engines silent. Water and sanitation authority’s activities were largely blocked due to traffic jams and they failed to move their equipment swiftly where it was required to handle emergency situation.
Rainwater also raided the Mughalpura Railway Workshop adversely hitting the rail traffic system while short-circuiting affected the signal system resulting in suspension of train traffic at various points.
The most affected areas were Shah Kamal, Garhi Shahu, Wasanpura, Old Anarkali, Mozang, Waris Road, parts of Allama Iqbal Town, Wahdat Colony, Misri Shah, New Chauburji, Baghanpura, Mughalpura, Data Nagar, Sanda, Dev Samaj Road, Chungi Amer Sadhu, Main Bazaar Ferozepur Road, Kot Lakhpat, Nisbat Road, Ichra, Wahdat Road.
According to reports, a breach in left bank of SatuKatla drain, near Model Town Q-Block, caused inundation of various localities including Pindi Rajaputan, Mohalah Salamatpura and areas along Sanda Road.
The heavy downpour however increased the water level in River Ravi and enthusiasts were seen boating on both sides of the bridge, some rushing with shopping bags filled with mangoes to Kamran’s Baradari for picnic.
In Islamabad, the airport authorities diverted PIA’s five international and a domestic flight, scheduled to land in the early hours, to Lahore due to bad weather conditions. The international flights were: PK 570 from Paris with 370 Passengers, PK702 from Manchester with 145 passengers, PK 754 from Riyadh with 219 passengers, PK 260 from Muscat with 103 Passengers, PK 262 from Abu Dhabi with 100 passengers.
Over 1,000 passengers of these five flights could not be disembarked at Lahore due to space shortage in the transit lounge and had to stay in the aircraft. Weather conditions at Islamabad airport improved after 11am and these international flights reached Islamabad one after another by 12:30pm.
Behind the schedule arrival of aircraft altered the departure from Islamabad of four international flights – PK 771 to Copenhagen and Oslo, PK 775 to Leeds, UK, PK 785 to London and PK 791 to Birmingham. These flights left Islamabad between 2pm to 3pm. Besides, a domestic flight PK 300, from Karachi to Islamabad, was diverted and had to wait at Lahore till the weather improved.