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At least one dead, mutliple areas without power as torrential rainstorm lashes Karachi

A coconut vendor pushes a hand-cart on a street under the rain in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, Pakistan, August 6, 2020. AFP/Asif Hassan

KARACHI: The torrential rainstorm that lashed the metropolis throughout Thursday left at least one person dead, wiped out power from numerous localities, and flooded multiple thoroughfares.

According to rescue sources, a man died of electrocution while working inside a house near Johar Morr in Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Johar area.

The heavy rains blanketed the city in darkness — both due to the clouds as well as prolonged power cuts by Karachi’s sole power supplier, the K-Electric. Power supply was suspended in most areas after hundreds of feeders tripped, reports indicated.

Sources at the K-Electric said more than 600 feeders tripped in different areas as soon as the downpour hit Karachi.

Areas experiencing hours-long power outages include Shah Faisal Town, Model Colony, Kazimabad, Shah Faisal Colony, Kharadar, Lyari, Saddar, Soldier Bazaar, Qayyumabad, Gulistan-e-Johar Block 2, surroundings, Malir, Liaquat Market, Qadir Chowk, and Sheesha Gali, while houses in Surjani Town, Khuda Ki Basti, and Nagan Chowrangi reported no electricity since morning.

On the other hand, a spokesperson for the K-Electric said the company was facing a shortfall of 120 megawatts (MW) of power from the Gharo wind corridor and feeders had been officially shut off in low-lying areas as a precaution.

‘Hazardous electrocution zones’

In a statement issued Thursday evening, the power-supplying company “reiterated its call for following all necessary safety protocols”, saying it had “released a series of public safety messages, including a safety marketing campaign across all media platforms”.

It urged its customers “to be mindful of the issues Karachi’s infrastructure faces due to rain and to put their trust in us by staying patient through the process”.

“In certain areas, such as Orangi Town, Sohrab Goth, North Nazimabad, North Karachi, Liaquatabad, Baldia town, it was necessary to shut down power due to water logging. Areas rife with water logging are at risk of becoming hazardous electrocution zones due to the presence of fallen internet and TV cables, plus power poles that have fallen because of unpruned trees that fall on power infrastructure when uprooted.

“During the recent rains, the power utility was forced to deliberately suspend power supply to as many as 350 feeders where there was severe water logging and presence of kundas in the interest of ensuring public safety,” the K-Electric added.

Letter to Commissioner Karachi

The company was making “the best efforts possible to restore power”, it said, adding that it appealed to relevant authorities “to coordinate with one another to ensure that the necessary protocols, such as clearance of the drainage system, removal of encroachments on infrastructure, pruning of overgrown foliage and other preventative measures, are followed”.

Separately, in a letter to Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Ali Shallwani, the K-Electric urged for precautionary measures in light of the expected monsoon rains.

In its letter, the company requested the Commissioner’s Office and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), Sindh to make early drainage possible. It also listed 451 points of water stagnation in Karachi.

As per the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the highest rainfall during the 2-8pm period was recorded at Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Faisal Base, at 56 millimetres (mm).

Saadi Town, Saddar, University Road, Old Airport, Landhi, Surjani Town, PAF Masroor Base, Keamari, Jinnah International Airport, Nazimabad, North Karachi, and Gulshan-e-Hadeed received 54mm, 46mm, 38.2mm, 37.5mm, 25.2mm, 19mm, 14.5mm, 12.5mm, 9.8mm, 10mm, 7.5mm, and 7mm of rainfall, respectively, the PMD added.

Rain emergency declared

Amid the sweltering heatwave in most parts of the country, the PMD had forecast a heavy spell of rain in Sindh and Balochistan beginning today till Saturday, due to which a rain emergency has been declared in many districts of Sindh.

The PMD said Karachi was expected to receive heavy downpour from tomorrow (Friday).

Meanwhile, fisherfolk have been directed not to venture into the deep sea as per the preventive measures issued by the government.

Earlier, the PMD had said one of the systems had travelled beyond Indian Gujarat and that the two developing systems were likely to converge by the evening today.

“Thunder cells are also forming in the southeast area of Karachi due to which the port city might receive rainfall in the evening,” it said, adding that the intensity of the rain may be higher on Friday.

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