Phet batters Pak coastline

KARACHI\\QUETTA - Cyclone Phet weakened Sunday after hitting Thatta and Badin but spared Karachi along the Sindh coast. Heavy rains and winds lashed Karachi and other cities, killing at least 14 people as the cyclone swirled along the coastline after killing 16 people in Oman. The cyclone moved rapidly eastwards in last six hours and went away from Karachis coast after hitting Sindhs Thatta and Badin coastal districts, Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry of Meteorological Department, said. The cyclone will turn into depression in the next 12 hours, which will result in further widespread rains in Karachi and other coastal parts of Sindh, Chaudhry said late Sunday. Cyclone Phet was earlier expected to landfall near Karachi with maximum winds of 100 kilometres an hour but it did not hit the commercial capital. The outer circle of Cyclone Phet spared the City by miles. Rains accompanied by gusty winds hit the coastal areas of Thatta including Keti Bandar, Khharochhan, Shahbunder and Jati. The city was inundated by rainwater and all the roads and streets, including Shahi Bazaar, were submerged in knee-deep water due to failure of drainage system. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from vulnerable coastal villages in Sindh, but thousands more refused to abandon their homes. Hundreds of relief camps have been established in the affected areas but people have complained about the lack of facilities. Media teams, rescuers and police personnel left behind in Thattas coastal town of Keti Bandar have been asked to immediately evacuate the town. Keti Bandar having a population of more than 5,000 had already been evacuated. However, around 100 persons were marooned in some scattered villages till late in the evening. The Army has mobilised its soldiers for rescue and relief operations in the coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan. The ISPR said four battalions were on high alert in coastal areas. The cyclone moved past Karachi without hitting the coast, said Meteorological Department. According to Met Office, two-to-four metre high tides are expected in Karachi coastal areas while more torrential rains are expected during the next 36 to 48 hours. Many Karachi and Hyderabad areas were still without electricity. Three people were killed in rain-related incidents in Hyderabad. At least 10 people lost their lives during heavy rains caused by cyclone Phet in Karachi. The irregular downpour struck the City in the wee hours of Sunday and paralysed the whole of the metropolis where commercial and non-commercial activities remained suspended. As many as 10 people died in different rain-related incidents while dozens of road accidents left scores of people wounded in different areas of the City. Officials in Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Civil Hospital and Jinnah Hospital confirmed arrival of hundreds of wounded persons who fell victim to road accidents. A youth Waseem Ahmad died when an electric wire fell down in front of his home at Chowkandi Graveyard. Police officials said the victim tried to have the electric supply through (Kunda) but lost his life after touching the electric pole. A woman Jannat Bibi died in an electrocution incident took place at her home located at Daud Chowrangi. Yahya, 12, died at Nazimabad No 2, while Muhammad Nadeem was electrocuted at his home at City Railway Colony in the limits of Mithadar Police Station. Saleem Khan, 18, was electrocuted at Baloch colony. Separately, an unidentified body of a youth was found at Burns Road Street No 2 where an electric line fell on the ground causing injuries to seven people at Sharah-e-Faisal. Another incident took place within the limits of Azizabad Police Station where a young man died because of the electrocution. The City slum areas including Old Saddar area, Ibrahim Hydery, Saddar, Ebrahim Hydery, Baldia, Maripur and other slum area were drowned as the rainwater entered most of the homes. On the other side, Pakistan Fisher Folk coordinator, Sami Memon, said more than 1,000 families from Bhit Shah Island and Manjhar Goth migrated to Ibrahim Hyderi, denying staying in relief camps as these places are not suitable for their survival. That is why, more than 13 camps established by the government are lying empty in Bin Qasim Town. Meanwhile, extraordinary torrential rains generated by cyclone Phet in the coastal areas of Balochistan have caused widespread devastation, playing havoc in a number of towns, especially Gwadar which is completely submerged in rainwater. The downpour and resultant flooding have also claimed one life and injured many others. 0.25 million population of Gwadar is waiting for relief as water up to three to five feet is standing in the streets and houses, Attaullah Mengal, Deputy Director Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Balochistan, told this ascribe on late Sunday night. He said coastal town of Gunz was completely washed away while 50 per cent of Jiwani town had been destroyed due to the cyclone. He said the government was facing an uphill task of relief and rescue as no flight could be operated to Gwadar and other coastal towns like Ormara, Jiwani and Pasni as heavy flooding had submerged the landing strips and airports. He further informed that Pishikan area of Gwadar and some other nearby localities were the worst affected by the cyclone, adding that a survey of these areas would be started soon after the conclusion of relief activities. Meanwhile, the NDMA and some international relief agencies have contacted PDMA for supply of relief goods in the affected areas. When contacted, Noor Mohsin, a local journalist of Aaj TV, said the people of Gwadar, which bore the brunt of the heavy downpour, were waiting for the relief and rescue operation. He said although the Army and the Frontier Corps had initiated relief operation on a limited scale, it was extremely insufficient in the face of huge damages in Gwadar and adjoining villages. He also said five camps had been set up for the affectees but they were not satisfied with the efforts of the local administration. On the other hand, Armys C130 aircraft loaded with medicines, food, drinking water, tents and other items could not take off both from Karachi and Quetta for Gwadar, as its airport had been rendered non-functional. Deputy Commissioner Pasand Khan Buledi, who shifted his office to Navys relief camp after the rains, told TheNation that the local administration was making all-out efforts for providing relief to the people. But cited the absence of land and air links within the district and rest of the country as the main hurdle in the operation. The whole Gunz town has been washed away, however, its population of around 4,000 was shifted to safer areas while majority of the population of 20,000 in Jiwani was either shifted or moved to mountainous areas. Meanwhile, a special cabinet meeting in Quetta with Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani in the chair, decided to donate their one-month salary for the flood and rain affectees. The CM had already announced Rs50 million for the relief and rescue operation. According to a Press release of Frontier Corps (FC), personnel of Pak Army, FC and Coast Guards were busy in relief activities in different cyclone-hit areas and shifting the people to safer places while relief camps had been established in which items of daily use were being provided to the affected people. Medical aid was also being ensured while 18 trucks of the Army and FC loaded with goods were also sent to Gwadar through a C-130 flight.

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