KARACHI: A maximum of 41 millimetres of rainfall that the city received late Monday night coupled with gusty winds wreaked havoc on the power supply system and municipal infrastructure as electrocution, falling billboard and roof collapse incidents left at least 19 people dead in different areas before another heavy spell of rain hit the metropolis late Tuesday evening.
The situation turned even worse due to flooding of low-lying areas and prolonged power outages, prompting Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar to order the rain emergency centre to function round the clock for the next two days as the Meteorological Department forecast partly cloudy to cloudy weather with chances of rain and thunderstorm on Wednesday (today).
There was no official word on exact death toll from any government department but the figures of casualties available with hospitals and rescue services of Edhi and Chhipa suggested that a total of 19 people including women and children died in rain-related incidents.
Most of the victims died from electrocution. They included Ruqayya Khatoon, 35, who died in the Rasheedabad area of Khawaja Ajmer Nagri; Fatima Wali Mohammad, 45, in North Nazimabad; Kaleemullah, 45, in Bhangoria Goth area of Azizabad; Aslam, 22, in Madinah Colony area of New Karachi; and Ghulam Mohammad, 45, in Gulshan-i-Iqbal’s Block 18.
Electrocution, falling billboards, roof collapse major causes of deaths; chances of more rain today
Roof collapse emerged as another reason for the casualties. Manzoor, 56, died when the roof of his house, situated in Jamali Goth area, off the Superhighway, collapsed. A similar incident was reported in Kaneez Fatima Society where a man, in his late 30s, died after the roof of his house collapsed. However, his identity could not be ascertained immediately. Another house collapsed in the Metroville area of SITE leaving two of its residents dead. Rescue workers and local police busy in removing the rubble said the house had been raised on a very weak foundation. The rain eroded the weak structure, they added.
The Sindh Building Control Authority had already asked the residents/occupants of ‘dangerous’ buildings to vacate the dilapidated structures as they might collapse in case of rains. SBCA chief Agha Maqsood Abbas told Dawn that the authority had also written letters to the utility agencies to disconnect the supply to these dangerous buildings, as gas leaks or power disruptions could cause blasts as well as electrocutions if these structures collapsed.
SBCA emergency cell
Mr Abbas said the SBCA had set up an emergency centre where technically qualified staffers along with required emergency equipment were present round the clock to provide assistance in case of collapse of any building. He also urged the people to approach the centre on telephone number 99232354 in case of any emergency.
He said there were around 340 dangerous buildings in the metropolis and around 100 dilapidated structures in other parts of the province. Any of them could fall any time, he said, adding that those buildings were even more vulnerable during the rains.